SINGAPORE: A variety of traditional Indian sweets were distributed to foreign workers to celebrate the Tamil and Bengali New Year on Tuesday (Apr 14).  

The initiative by the Inter-Agency Taskforce and the Hindu Endowments Board was to “give workers some comfort during this difficult period”, the manpower ministry said in a news release.

Workers at Westlite Toh Guan. (Photo: MOM)

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A worker receiving sweets at Toh Guan Dormitory. (Photo: MOM)

The COVID-19 situation in Singapore has made it worse for the workers who already come to Singapore with a “certain level of trepidation” after leaving their families behind, said T Raja Segar, chairman of the Hindu Endowments Board. 

“It is very difficult even for us to imagine how they feel. It’s quite scary for them,” he said.

“The only thing that is actually bright for the workers are all these festivals. They look towards Deepavali, they look towards Pongal, they look towards the New Year. These are the high points in their lives in the year.

“Now that the New Year has come, they are not able to enjoy as they did over the last few years. Their families are not here. The only way they can enjoy is to come out, be with friends, have a good meal, go to the temple, pray and so on.

“They can’t do any of those things. The least we can do is to cheer them up a little bit.”

READ: COVID-19: Battling fear and boredom, migrant workers grapple with isolation in dormitories

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Sweets distributed at Westlite Toh Guan. (Photo: MOM)

A total of 123,000 traditional Indian sweets, including laddu, mysore pauk, paal gova were prepared by 24 Hindu temples. These were then distributed to foreign workers across 22 locations.

“This is a first of its kind effort by the Hindu Endowments Board, bringing temples together to produce traditional sweets on this scale,” the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) added.

Workers also received fast food like KFC and vegetarian pizza on top of their daily meals, the Inter-Agency Taskforce said, adding more than 90,000 such meals were distributed.

“We hope that these festive goodies will help to lift the spirits of the foreign workers as they celebrate this festive occasion,” MOM said.

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