Going beyond their hours for Deepavali


Garland makers in Brickfields are busy stringing up garlands to meet customers’ orders for Deepavali.

THE run-up to Deepavali affords those celebrating the festival the opportunity to spend quality time with loved ones as they prepare to usher in the auspicious occasion.

Decorating the home and shopping for new clothes are among the norms observed before the Festival of Lights.

There are, however, some who are unable to do these things owing to the nature of their work.

Business owners are known to sacrifice time with their family so they can attend to their customers’ needs and make Deepavali merrier for others.

StarMetro went in search of some of these proprietors to appreciate their efforts in lighting up others’ lives.

Butcher Sittai Kasivisuanathan, 41, keeps her shop open until Deepavali day so customers are assured of fresh mutton for the celebration.

Purusuthaman (left) chopping mutton for customers alongside workers, Muninathan Manthaiyan, 29 (second from left) and Sevugamoorthi at Papa Mutton Shop in Brickfields.Purusuthaman (left) chopping mutton for customers alongside workers, Muninathan Manthaiyan, 29 (second from left) and Sevugamoorthi at Papa Mutton Shop in Brickfields.

Papa Mutton Shop Brickfields, formerly known as Kasi Mutton Shop, has been operating for two generations.

Sittai, who took over the family business after her parents fell ill, has been running the shop for 16 years.

“My father initially ran the business, then my mother took over. Now, I am operating it full-time, ” she said.

Sittai said her shop would open for half the day on Deepavali day.

“Customers keep coming in with their orders even on Deepavali Some will pre-order their mutton for pick-up.

“Other regular customers have requested that we remain open until Deepavali evening, ” she said.

“We use a giant wooden board to cut the meat, and we cut out the fat after defrosting the meat so customers get lean meat.

“Mutton is a must-have dish for many families on Deepavali, ” she said, adding that her employee Sevugamoorthi Alagu, 35, who has been working with the family for 18 years, was familiar with customers’ orders.

The shop sells around 800kg to 900kg of meat during the festive season.

Sittai said she relied on her family to handle Deepavali preparations at home as she was tied up at the shop.

“My mum does the traditional Indian snacks while my sister helps buy biscuits and other necessities for the celebration, ” she said.

Sittai said her 10-year-old son was very understanding of her situation while her husband, Purusuthaman Balan, 37, helped run the business.

Tailor Rukumani Rackan, 63, of Sri Mani Tailoring and Textiles in Petaling Jaya said getting customers’ orders ready nearing Deepavali keeps her away from her family.

Rukumani cutting materials as her deadline to complete her orders approach.Rukumani cutting materials as her deadline to complete her orders approach.

Rukumani, who was once a quality control supervisor, decided to pursue her own business after completing a tailoring course.

She said her sister gave her the idea of opening up a tailoring shop.

“Tailoring is not something you can do right after you complete

the course. It comes with experience.

“But I believe my passion for tailoring has kept me in the business, ” said Rukumani.

She said her workload increased twofold during the Deepavali season.

“During the festive period, my staff and I have extra work because customers want to give clothes as gifts to their family members.

“Sometimes, I get up to three orders for suits per customer.

“Normally, we work 10 hours a day but during the festive season, we work 12 to 13 hours to cope up with orders, ” said Rukumani.

She said the shop was open seven days a week, two months prior to Deepavali.

“We even have customers coming in on the eve of Deepavali asking if we can take their orders and we try and help them where possible, ” she said.

She said her Deepavali preparations would have to wait until the eleventh hour.

“My children, my brothers and other relatives will come over and help with the cooking.

“Sometimes I will do murukku on Deepavali day to cater to my family’s request.

“My shop is closed for at least four days during the festive period so I can spend time with my family, ” she added.

She said when she started her business, her family did not quite understand her commitment.

“Now that my children are older, they understand the nature of my work, ” she said, adding that she did not like to turn down customers’ requests for last-minute orders.

Senthilkumar making garlands at his stall in Wisma Low Kim Her, Brickfields.Senthilkumar making garlands at his stall in Wisma Low Kim Her, Brickfields.

Garland-maker Senthilkumar Kaliyaperumal, 47, has his hands full during Deepavali.

Senthilkumar, who has been operating his stall for 27 years in Masjid India and Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur, has many regular customers who look for his garlands.

Today, his colourful garlands deck the stall which is nearby Wisma Low Kim Her in Brickfields.

“People buy garlands, strings of flowers as well as bouquets for the celebration.

“They buy garlands for prayers which is important on the night before Deepavali.

“Some customers ask for customised designs which I oblige, ” he said.

To meet the bulk of orders, he stocks up on flowers so he does not run short.

“I prepare the garlands a day earlier so I can deliver the orders to my customers the following day, ” Senthilkumar said, adding that he owned another flower shop in Sentul that was managed by his wife.

He usually closes his shop for two days for Deepavali but this year, he would resume work on Monday as there were orders to fulfil.

“My stall is open 24 hours for three days before Deepavali.

“My family and I don’t usually do any preparations prior to Deepavali because we finish work in the wee hours of the morning, ” he said

Senthilkumar said his garlands were his act of devotion because the garlands were offered for prayers at Hindu temples and homes.

Vijialetchmi (right) and Shela Devi preparing murukku and athirasam at their home in Taman Bertek, Klang.Vijialetchmi (right) and Shela Devi preparing murukku and athirasam at their home in Taman Bertek, Klang.

Vijialetchmi Ramaiah, 70, who makes traditional Indian snacks at home is especially busy as Deepavali approaches.

The night market trader, who trades at Simpang Ampat in Klang on Fridays, focuses on making

athirasam and murukku during Deepavali.

Vijialetchmi said she started her business at the age of 40 and has been at it for 30 years.

She said her family was very supportive of her business.

“I usually take large orders for athirasam before Deepavali.

“There are many steps in making athirasam including soaking the rice, grinding it, cooking, frying and boiling, ” said Vijialetchmi.

Athirasam is an Indian sweet made from rice flour, jaggery, cardamom and ghee.

She said she also accept orders on a daily basis hence her athirasam dough was always ready should there be sudden requests.

“Athirasam is a must have item for Deepavali, ” she said.

She said at her age, her passion for making the snacks keeps her occupied.

“My son often tells me not to strain myself but I continue doing this because it makes me happy, ” said Vijialetchmi.

Her daughter Shela Devi Sivalingam, 51, a teacher at SMJK Kwang Hua, Klang said her mother would sometimes forgo her days off to accommodate customers’ orders.

Shela Devi said her mother did not take many murukku orders because it was difficult to do alone.

“My mum has to have someone helping her with murukku making as it is not easy to do.

“We allow her to make athirasam because she can do this on her own, ” said Shela Devi, who assists her mother whenever possible at their home in Taman Bertek, Klang.

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