Today is the day of celebration by all our Hindu community here in Malaysia to mark the new day of the year called “Dipavali” or more commonly known as “Divali” in other countries. This is a special day with “Divali” comes from the Sanskrit word Deepavali, meaning “rows of lighted lamps”. Celebrated during the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika (between mid-October and mid-November) by Hindu, Jain and Sikh communities in Peninsular Malaysia. Deepavali is the biggest and most important day of the year to celebrate as the day that Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura by Hindu’s religious belief. Nevertheless, this day signifies the brightness and lights of the divine over the darkness, sufferings of people with prosperity and wealthiness to come in the new year.
In Malaysia, all Hindu houses, shops and public places are decorated with small oil lamps called “diyas” on this special Deepavali day. People also enjoy fireworks and sweets too where all the families and friends from other races and religions such as Malays and Chinese friends will gather and celebrate together on such special day enjoying traditional Indian foods such as mutton curry, rice puddings and traditional snacks like murukku (circle of fried flour cookie made with spices). Gifts and delicious sweets are distributed to family members, relatives and neighbours, fireworks are lit and religious ceremonies conducted in the Hindu temple early in the morning till the whole day long.
In addition to the oil lamps, “kolam” a colourful art also known as “rangoli” drawn on the floor and made from crushed and coloured rice grains can also be found decorating Hindu homes. It is often placed outside the doors of Hindu homes to usher in blessings and prosperity for the family dwelling inside. Despite the great skill and effort it takes to produce one, with sufficient dedication and time, a uniquely beautiful “kolam” can emerge, often featuring intricate motifs of plants, flowers and peacocks. It is also a tradition meant to feed small creatures such as ants and birds in the hope of bringing blessings and providing sustenance for the Hindu community. “Kolam” also play a role and a symbol of worship to Laksmi, the Goddess of Wealth which brings blessings to the ones with a “kolam” displayed at the entrance of the house. Here in Malaysia, even Chinese and Malay communities display the “kolam” at the entrance of their houses and during special events as a way to add colour to their celebrations portrays unique Malaysia famous for its multiracial harmony.
Places that filled with vibrant Hindu cultures can be found in many of the temples in Peninsular Malaysia especially in Kuala Lumpur and Penang. The Little India in Brickfield is famous for its traditional Hindu shops selling all the traditional clothes such as Sarees and all colourful decoratives stuff for Deepavali festivals. Deepavali also marks a new year for all Hindus where they enjoy the feast together and praying in the temples not to mention the tradition of buying gold bangles and jewelry for the women to pamper themselves.
We all celebrated this Deepavali together this year which falls on Saturday even though we are facing the pandemic which has restricted our normal movement in this new year celebration. However, this does not deter our will of praying and giving care to people around us as a whole to extend our blessings to other especially those less privileged in our community and adhere to all the SOPs in order to contain and fight against the conoravirus together with all the frontliners who have been working relentlessly since March 2020. Hope that with the good spirits of “Divali” and the lights that bring us strength and good blessings we can all overcome take a victory over the coronavirus soon.
Learn more about the multicultural and festive events of Malaysia: Holiday in Malaysia
Photo credit to: Udayaditya Barua from Unsplash