Once Upon a Time in Little India

Once Upon a Time in Little India

Having only opened in May 2015, the Indian Heritage Centre has wasted no time in launching its inaugural special exhibition entitled ‘Once Upon a Time in Little India’. The Little India thematic exhibition will run from 22 October 2016 to 21 July 2017 at the four-storey museum based at Campbell Lane in Little India.

Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran launched the Indian Heritage Centre’s inaugural special exhibition, ‘Upon Upon a Time in Little India’, on 21 October.

Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran launched the Indian Heritage Centre’s inaugural special exhibition, ‘Upon Upon a Time in Little India’, on 21 October.

A visitor takes a group selfie with the performers during the exhibition launch.

A visitor takes a selfie with a group of performers during the exhibition launch.

The exhibition seeks to tell the story of Little India using a selection of archival materials and artefacts sourced from the National Collection and loaned or donated from the community. The community donations and loans on display feature strongly – with many personal items from traditional businesses and individuals of prominence or of special relationships with Little India.

A display of personal and legal documents on loan from Mr Barry Desker, Singapore’s Non-Resident Ambassador to Spain and the Holy See. He is also the great-grandson of Mr Andre Felipe Desker, a prominent property owner in Little India and one of Singapore’s first butchers. Desker Road was named after him.

A display of personal and legal documents on loan from Mr Barry Desker, Singapore’s Non-Resident Ambassador to Spain and the Holy See. He is also the great-grandson of Mr Andre Felipe Desker, a prominent property owner in Little India and one of Singapore’s first butchers. Desker Road was named after him.

A clothes iron on loan from P Suppiah Laundry, one of the last remaining traditional Indian laundries in Singapore.

A clothes iron on loan from P Suppiah Laundry, one of the last remaining traditional Indian laundries in Singapore.

Not merely a historical presentation, the exhibition features works commissioned by contemporary artists. At 14 metres long, Navin Rawachaikul’s collage for his ‘Passage to Little India’ composition takes up almost one quarter of the exhibition hall length. It juxtaposes over 250 individuals associated with the Little India precinct’s past and present.

One of Navin Rawanchaikul’s composition, ‘Passage to Little India’. The exhibition features more than 100 artefacts and artworks from the community and National Collection.

One of Navin Rawanchaikul’s composition, ‘Passage to Little India’. The exhibition features more than 100 artefacts and artworks from the community and National Collection.

Film director K Rajagopal’s short film trilogy pays homage to three stories set in Little India: Indian labour at the old Race Course, P Govindasamy Pillai’s business enterprises in Little India, and the world of cinema at Syed Alwi Road’s New World.

A saree sale advertised at the P Govindasamy Pillai shop at Serangoon Road in 1987. Image Source: National Archives of Singapore.

A saree sale advertised at the P Govindasamy Pillai shop at Serangoon Road in 1987. Image Source: National Archives of Singapore.

The 2016 Deepavali light-up at the junction where Serangoon Road meets the pedestranised Campbell Lane. Half of Campbell Lane was pedestrianised in early 2015.

The 2016 Deepavali light-up at the junction where Serangoon Road meets the pedestranised Campbell Lane. Half of Campbell Lane was pedestrianised in early 2015.

Indian Heritage Centre’s convenient location at Campbell Lane means the visitors immediately enter a bustling street scene of roadside grocers, textile shops and traditional Indian sweet shops at the Little India Arcade, a restored 1920s shophouse cluster managed by the Hindu Endowments Board.

Once Upon a Time in Little India is a gateway to Little India precinct’s rich history and personal stories. Visitors should use it as a springboard to explore the vibrant neighbourhood – of the bustling streets, the people, colourful festivals like Deepavali and Pongal, the five-foot-ways, the traditional trades and places of worship like the Masjid Abdul Gaffoor, Masjid Angullia and Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple.

Visitors should see Once Upon a Time in Little India as a springboard to explore the Little India precinct.

Visitors should see Once Upon a Time in Little India as a springboard to explore the Little India precinct.

On display at the exhibition is an old Minolta camera on loan from K Sajeev Lal, who owns a photography studio at Kerbau Road.

On display at the exhibition is an old Minolta camera on loan from K Sajeev Lal, who owns a photography studio at Kerbau Road.

Little India is one of the most culturally vibrant and colourful precincts in Singapore.

Little India is one of the most culturally vibrant and colourful precincts in Singapore.

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