Self-employed Malaysians who have been affected by the pandemic, including Kolam artist M. Devaaki Marimuthu, 35, are finding new and creative ways to earn a livelihood and support their families during the uncertain times.
Devaaki, who usually designs Kolam, the colourful traditional artwork made of coloured rice and flour that are placed at the entrance of homes during Deepavali to usher in good fortune, has now started baking and selling cakes and brownies online.
The owner of kakdevakitchen Instagram account reveals that she has received an overwhelming response from her customers since she starting her online business in June this year.
"The idea to start my online cake business came about after my kolam decorations, henna and make-up artist business was badly affected during the Movement Control Order (MCO), because those businesses are based on seasonal demand," she says.
"Because of the Covid-19 outbreak, many events this year such as parties, festive celebrations and other events can't be held,” says Devaaki.
She was designing a Kolam design in the lobby of Wisma Bernama in conjunction with Deepavali, the Festival of Lights, which will be celebrated by Hindus on Nov 14.
Devaaki began making Kolam six years ago because of her deep interest in the arts and traditions of her people.
"The skill of making the Kolam is usually passed down from generation to generation. Even though it looks difficult to produce, we can make it look beautiful, unique and interesting. She adds that it takes roughly an hour for a small design. She uses plant based materials such as rice, flour and coconut husk, which have been enhanced with food colouring.
"The reason rice flour is often used is because it serves as food for the insects, ants and birds around the house," says Devaaki.
Popular designs include peacocks, flowers, and abstract ones. Besides Deepavali, Kolams are also popular as decorations during New Year celebrations, engagements, weddings, Ponggal festival, religious ceremonies,
"This year, orders for Kolams have declined. Usually, I will receive more than 10 orders and earn about RM3,000,” says Devaaki, adding the price ranges from RM250 to RM1,000 for each Kolam, depending on the size, pattern, materials and colours used. — Bernama
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