A Colourful Celebration of the Festival of Lights
A colourful and festive event, Deepavali is a national public holiday in Malaysia celebrated by the local Hindus and Hindus around the world.
What Is Deepavali in Malaysia All About?
Every year the festival falls on a different date. That is because the celebration is determined by the Hindu lunar calendar. The dates on this calendar vary from that of the commonly used Gregorian calendar.
The legendary story of Deepavali is as colourful as the festival itself. One such tale depicts how Rama came back to claim his throne once more after being banished for 14-years. Legend has it that on the night he returned, it was exceptionally dark outside. Most people in the city had to light up clay lamps. These lamps were placed all around their houses. The story goes that it was the lighted path that showed Rama the way to his throne.
Other legends and stories talk of how Deepavali is a time to celebrate and honour the Hindu goddess Lakshmi. She is the goddess of light and prosperity. It is believed that the lamps were lighted on this auspicious day so Lakshmi could come and bless the homes of the people. This is one reason why the holiday is known as the Festival of Lights.
How Is Deepavali Celebrated in Malaysia?
Symbolically, it is a day that recalls when good triumphed over evil. From darkness into light. It is a tradition for Hindus to rise early in the morning and prepare for the day ahead. Most would begin the day with a prescribed ritual bath made of herbal oil. The symbolism behind the ritual is to signify washing away one’s sins. The day continues with families hosting prayer services in their homes. Alternatively, some may choose to visit the local temple for any other acts of worship or to take part in rituals.
Homes will be decorated in beautiful coloured paper lanterns. A Deepavali staple at most major shopping centres, temples and homes is the kolam. This is a temporary but very intricate floor design made entirely out of colourful powders and dyed rice. It may look easy, but it takes considerable effort to perfect the art of kolam.
What to Do During Deepavali in Malaysia
All schools and most offices will be shut on this day. Head to the nearby shopping malls or visit a Hindu’s home to view the beautiful kolam designs. Open houses are common on this day, and if you know a local, you may get lucky and be invited over for a delicious Deepavali meal.
Fireworks and gift-giving are also common practice in Malaysia, together with sampling an array of savoury and sweet food that will be sure to delight anyone. A must-try Malaysian snack is the murukku, another staple you will find everywhere particularly on this day.
The Little India street in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur is a must-see on this day. The lights and celebrations are spectacular.