Today is a big celebration for our Hindu brothers in Malaysia and Singapore. They are celebrating the Deepavali (Diwali) with a billion Hindus in India and around the world. The Deepavali is more famously known as the Festival of Lights -- which marks the victory of good over evil, the triumph of light over darkness.
Deepavali is a time of renewal. This is also the time when past quarrels are forgotten and people forgive each other. Don’t we just love occasions like this? People are in a festive mood and smiling more. Extra kind and extra generous! Just like Songkran, Hari Raya or Christmas.
Days or even weeks before the actual day of Deepavali, anticipation runs high. Homes are immaculately cleaned; holiday decors here and there and women painstakingly make a sand mandala. Little India’s in our region are decorated with thousands of colorful light bulbs to mesmerize us all. A more traditional approach is lighting little oil lamps made of clay.
These are all done to invite and welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity – who is believed to visit temples and homes on the actual Deepavali day. It is also said that Lakshmi will not enter an unlit house.
The night before is hectic with last-minute preparations for the big day. On Deepavali morning, Hindu devotees are already up before sunrise for the oil bath ritual – they do this to signify purity and cleaning their bodies and minds. After that, they go straight to the temple and pray more.
As traditions of Hindus in Malaysia and Singapore, the rest of the day is for receiving guests and visitors. Oh, this is my favorite part! Visiting my Indian friends and sampling all those delectable Indian dishes and sweets! But this is vegetarian food smorgasbord. Hindus are typically vegetarians – so, good for me! Young people usually end the day with street parties or going to a nightspot with their friends. A chance to celebrate it with their Chinese and Malay friends.
Andariki Deepavali Shubhakankshalu!
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