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Friday November 1, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Friday November 1, 2013 MYT 9:12:03 AM
by kathleen michael
A festival of colours: Preethi (second from left) with her sisters back in India.
DEEPAVALI is synonymous with family, friends, food and fun but what happens when one of these elements is taken out of the equation?
StarMetro takes a look at how some expatriates celebrate Deepavali away from home.
Preethi Gurunathan has been in Malaysia for about 100 days, and counting.
“This year will be my first Deepavali without my family,” she said.
Though missing her family, the 22-year-old from Chennai, India will be celebrating the festival with a few good friends here.
Back home, a big part of the festival is spent making lots of Indian sweets to share with neighbours and relatives.
“We also wear new traditional costumes and most importantly, play firecrackers the whole day,” she said.
“The best part is the competition among neighbours on whose firecrackers make the most sound.”
Preethi said she would definitely miss the sounds and beautiful lights from the firecrackers at night.
Also celebrating Deepavali for the first time in Malaysia is Y. Laskhmaji Rao, who has been here for seven months.
The 50-year-old is excited to see how the festival is celebrated here.
Back home, the celebration starts off with a morning Lakshmi pooja with the family followed by prayers at a temple in their new traditional wear.
“In the afternoon, we visit relatives,” he said, adding Indian sweets will be exchanged.
“We also visit our friends’ altars and pray to the deities for the wellbeing of everyone,” he added.
The festival ends with a show of firecrackers at night.
Although Rao will be without his family, he will not be alone as there are many Indian expatriates celebrating the occasion.
He will be spending Deepavali with fellow members of Indian community organisations and clubs.
“I will also be visiting Batu Caves and some temples in Sentul,” he said.
Ajay Shukla is of Gujarati descent and has been in Malaysia with his family of six since 2007.
“Gujarati people don’t use coloured rice, coloured sand is used instead to make rangoli, known as kolam here,” he said.
He added that his family usually made different designs around the house a few days before Deepavali.
“We will design the rangoli on Oct 29 this year,” he added.
Ajay said the celebration here was spent with other Gujarati families at the temple they worship.
“In India, we don’t go for gatherings as everyone will be celebrating the festival at home,” he said.
His mother and wife are kept busy preparing a month’s worth of food for Deepavali.
Most of their meals are home cooked and some ingredients used are hard to come by here.
“Our poori is different while murukku is made with wheat flour, not rice flour, and is spicy,” he said.
One aspect of the celebration here that is new to Ajay and his family is the open house and he is planning to hold one this year.
Abhishek Rastogi, a 23-year-old web developer, has been in Malaysia for more than seven years.
He, too, said the poori back home is different while another favourite is a dish called pau bhaji, a bun filled with spicy vegetable mash.
“We have lots of sweets too,” he added.
Deepavali is usually a quiet celebration with friends.
He feels that the celebrations here are unique as they go beyond religion.
“I’ve celebrated with an Indian family who hosted Chinese guests, which I feel befits the occassion.
“Deepavali in Malaysia is a unique celebration of oneness that’s unlike anything I have ever experienced in India.”
Tags / Keywords:
Central Region, Family & Community, Deepavali
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