Singapore International Indian Shopping Festival a hit

Singapore International Indian Shopping Festival a hit

This year the Singapore International Indian Shopping Festival (SIISFest) was held at Suntec City Convention Centre from Oct 2 to 5. With 200 stalls offering a wide variety of Indian products there was something for everyone.

State Bank of India managing director Krishna Kumar praised the festival for showcasing India's food, fashion and culture.

"I'm impressed with the event. It's a great opportunity for people to get authentic Indian products. SIISFest gets bigger every year and it's a great tribute to the organisers," he said.

On Oct 2, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong after inaugurating the festival stopped by various stalls and gamely tried on a kurta at one of them.

At the Rajasthani Village, a pagari (Rajasthani turban) was placed on his head as a mark of respect and to welcome him.

He also tried his hand at block printing, where blocks are used to stamp designs onto fabrics that are then made into dresses or saris.

Mrs Prajacta, 36, who has visited the shopping festival organised by tabla!, Tamil Murasu and de ideaz the past two years, shared that she found the Rajasthani Village very unique.

She added: "The fair has improved over the years. I am able to find quality products here, some really beautiful bedspreads and ethnic saris."

This year, shoppers had the opportunity to see some of India's master craftsmen in action, such as cane and bamboo craftsmen Subhrendu Bikash Roy, 71, who started weaving miniature cane and bamboo designs at the age of 11.

A recipient of the National Award for Master-craftsmen for his excellence in cane and bamboo craft, he showed off his masterpiece, a finely woven fish basket measuring 4.5mm by 2.5mm.

Mr Krishna's stall Suria Fine Art sold original canvas oil paintings depicting Indian folk art by 36 artists including himself.

It was his first time at SIISFest and he shared: "I have enjoyed my experience here. The customers are very knowledgeable about Indian art and sculptures."

Mrs Maureen Allam, 70, who was attending SIISFest for the first time, had just bought herself a pair of earrings. "I love how colourful everything is. It has a good selection of everything," she said.

Second-time SIISFest participant Seemaah Roaskar, whose stall Tanshu offered fashion and jewellery, said: "People were appreciative of what we had to offer.

We had quite a lot of people who came last year and are here again."

A second-time shopper at SIISFest, Mrs Elizabeth James, 54, said: "The products are affordable and there is such a variety.

I like the stores at the Rajasthani Village - the bangle designs there are beautiful," she said.

As usual, food was a big draw for Singaporeans and shoppers were able to purchase everything from tea to spices and a variety of salty and savoury snacks.

Ms Vandana Sharma, whose stall Sonnamera sold tidbits, desserts and drinks, said: "We've had a fantastic response.

The badam drink (almond milk) and crispy snacks is a favourite among our customers. We'd love to come back again."

Shoppers were kept entertained too. Kalbelia singers and dancers from Rajasthan had the audience in awe with their folk songs and dances.

And on the last day of the festival, Indian actress Shriya Saran met and interacted with shoppers and their children.

This year's SIISFest marks 50 years of diplomatic relations between India and Singapore.

At the festival's inaguration, Indian high commissioner Vijay Thakur Singh said: "SIISFest is a key event in the calendar, celebrating 50 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations."

She also said that the objective of SIISFest was to bring Indian products and services closer to the residents of Singapore.

"Visitors to SIISFest will have a wide choice of products from different corners of India and will be able to witness the richness of Indian culture," she said.

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