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Saturday November 2, 2013 MYT 8:38:00 AM
Saturday November 2, 2013 MYT 8:48:54 AM
by d. kanyakumari
The kolam made out of pebbles.
PETALING JAYA: Thousands of people converged on Klang and Brickfields for their last-minute Deepavali shopping Friday.
The stalls are lined with grand colourful attires, the sweet meats laid out in bright packages.
Indeed, it is that time of the year again. Hindus all around the world will be clad in their new clothes to celebrate the Festival of Lights.
Everyone, especially Malaysians, know the celebration of Deepavali. However, not many understand the significance of the lights that are lit during the occasion.
Growing up, many Hindu children would have heard their elders tell them that this festival is the celebration of the victory of good over evil. As many Hindu mythologies go, this festival too has more than one story behind it.
In literal terms, however, Deepavali means row of lights - 'deepa' means lights and 'avali' means row.
Temple of Fine Arts dance director Vatsala Sivadas, 75, explains that the earthern lamp which is lit during the festival of lights carries a significant meaning in every element of itself.
"The earth with which the lamp is made signifies dirt or impurities. This represents us as a person in search of enlightenment.
"The oil in the lamp represents negative qualities such as lust, greed, anger, hatred and jealousy which in turn fuels the soul or oneself. This is represented by the cotton wick," she said.
Vatsala explained that ultimately one has to get rid of materialism in order to attain enlightenment, and this is clearly represented by the entire process where the lamp emits light when the wick, which is fueled by the oil, burns.
"The 'Vizhakku' (lamp) symbolises knowledge. Any individual who is ignorant will be left in the dark until and unless there is realisation to gain knowledge and unveil the purpose of their existence.
"Hence, the lamp signifies the removal of ignorance through knowledge," she said.
Vatsala added that certain rituals like the oil bath and even the adorning of new clothes are done with a reason.
"It is a known fact that oil has the ability to cool down one's body, hence pouring it at the crown of the head would eliminate all the past negative forces accumulated in the body.
"Following the oil bath, it is a tradition for Hindus to wear brand new clothes. This signifies the shedding of negative old habits and the start of a whole new life in a positive light," she said.
She explained that the habit of making sweets in addition to creating and enhancing bonds between families and friends also signifies that one should speak sweet things and have sweet thoughts.
"Ultimately, like any other religious festival celebrated by all religions, this festival is about seeing the light in oneself and others while eliminating all negativity," Vatsala added.
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Deepavali, Celebrations, Shopping, Lights
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