THAT warm glow on a festival holiday need not be confined to the home, several local companies are demonstrating.

Some, like Kong Hwee Iron Works and Construction, have made holiday dinners an annual tradition. The company at Senoko South Road in Woodlands on Thursday celebrated Deepavali with a mouth-watering spread for its more than 140 foreign workers and staff.

Spirits picked up as they tucked into a hot meal of chicken masala, biryani and rogan josh mutton catered from Sakunthala's Food Palace in Little India.
The company's managing director Ng Lok Kai said that such festival dinners have been a regular feature since 2000, when the company had less than 30 foreign workers. That number has since more than tripled.

Companies which rely heavily on foreign workers tend to be in the construction and marine sectors. Many hire between 70 and 100 workers, though some - such as construction services provider Yong Nam Holdings - have hundreds on call.

No official figures are available on the number of India-born foreign workers here, but some estimates put their population at about 200,000.

A Deepavali spread