WITH Deepavali just a little over a fortnight away, the Little India enclaves in Klang and Brickfields are bustling with shoppers again.
Traders are taking full advantage of the lifting of restrictions that were necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic, to promote everything from festive clothes to decorative items and even gold jewellery to eager customers.
The festive atmosphere is hard to miss as the latest Tamil hit songs blare out from speakers and colourful lights adorn shops while shoppers fill the walkways.
Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry special task force council member NP Raman said, “On weekends, we watch people carrying huge bags filled with festive goodies walking in the area, while the shops’ staff call out to the shoppers; it is business as usual.”
“Both Little India locations, Klang’s Jalan Tengku Kelana and Brickfields’ Jalan Tun Sambanthan, are crowded.
“All Malaysians are looking forward to the Festival of Lights that falls on Nov 4 this year.
“After almost 21 months of restrictions imposed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have opened up again,” added Raman.
In terms of fashion selections, simple but elegant appears to be the trend for this Deepavali.
Saree and textile merchants offer a plethora of choices for Indian women as designers have upped the ante with multi-coloured shades, floral prints and embroideries.
Clutching colourful contemporary saree fabrics in their hands, traders coax shoppers to feel the material and see the design, leading them from one counter to the next to ensure they leave the store with a purchase.
At Sri Kumarans Silk Store — which has branches in Klang, Brickfields and Leboh Ampang (Kuala Lumpur) — its managing director N. Ravichandran said that with interstate travel allowed, calendars begin to fill up with events.
“This Deepavali, things are starting to look brighter,” he noted.
“With Deepavali next month and the wedding season in the second week of December, we have updated our textile stocks.
“Our new textile offerings are being brought in by chartered flight so we can restock twice a week.
“Our aim now is to give our customers the latest offerings.
“We are seeing 60% wedding and 40% Deepavali purchases,” he added.
Ravichandran said customers were going for handloom Kanchipuram, Chettinad cotton and Banarasi soft silk fabrics besides tissue organza saree that comes in several shades of bright colours, which is the current rage as it is worn by many Indian actresses.
R. Gayathiri, 26, who was shopping for saree with her sister Shasmita, 22, and mother, R. Sivapakiam, 74, said wearing a saree was wonderful as it could transform a woman with its vibrant silk material and warm hues.
Raman said people were choosing to shop at the standalone shops in Klang and Brickfields.
“More people are shopping at Little India shops as they get better bargains,” he said.
It is a mini battle among saree shops, with discounts and gifts being offered to entice customers.
Salesmen at the many shops call out and cajole shoppers to enter their stores to see the latest designs in Indian traditional clothing.
Shops were careful to follow the standard operating procedure for Covid-19, including ensuring shoppers scanned MySejahtera and were fully vaccinated as well as wearing face masks.
There was also a limit to the number of shoppers allowed inside premises at any one time, but most customers were willing to wait patiently for their turn.
Imported selections and traditional treats
International school teacher Nalani Mahendran, 28, from Penang, who was shopping for some decorative items with her sister Shalini at the New Malliga outlet in Brickfields, said it felt nostalgic to shop again in Little India.
For Indian women, the celebration is not complete without a gold chain, necklace and bangles.
This season, Thangaram Jewellers is offering gold necklaces and chains referred to as “Dubai Malai” that borrow designs from nature, giving them a rich and sensuous appeal.
Necklaces with exquisite craftsmanship made in Dubai, the UAE, with semi-precious green or red stones became a craze after Bollywood stars wore them in movies.
The company’s director KK Devan said jewellery stores were doing brisk business and the popular selection this Deepavali were the necklace range imported from Dubai.
“Our gold necklaces feature designs of mango leaves, jasmine flowers and peacocks. “Some people want necklaces while others choose simple but attractive Calcutta-design nose studs, earrings and rings,” he added.
Shops selling household appliances are also doing brisk business, with double the normal volume of customers.
Tourists from Tambun, Ipoh in Perak, Letchumi Mohan, 59, and her daughter Dr Divya Mohan, 29, were seen shopping for brass oil lamps in Klang’s Little India — a must-have item for Deepavali.
“We have come to Klang’s Little India as it is a one-stop shopping enclave for all things Indian.
“Our trip is also to get some saree fabrics,” said Divya.
Deepavali is also a time to indulge in traditional delicacies and mouthwatering Indian sweets made locally by chefs brought in from Chennai, India.
In Brickfields, the Adyar Ananda Bhavan Sweets and Snacks outlet is famous for its kaju kathly, palkova, mini jangiri, mothi laddu and special Mysore pak.
Outlet manager Wishvan Ramellenggam, 36, said the shop would get at least 250 customers daily from 8am to 11pm, including foreigners.
In Klang’s Little India, housewives can be seen at the Muthu Pillay store that sells ready-made flour to make traditional delicacies such as ghee urundai, achi murukku, alwa, palkova, jelebi, muruku, vadai, adaresam and pasipaeru urundai.
Proprietor Vinodini Thiagarajan said business was good and the number of customers had increased.
“I believe as the festival gets closer, the crowds will get even bigger.
“We are stocking up to ensure enough supply to meet demand,” she said.
During a visit by StarMetro to Klang and Brickfields’ Little India, restaurants were packed at lunchtime.
Vendors selling flowers and jasmine garlands were busy fulfilling orders.
Foreign tourists visiting Little India are thrilled to see the riot of colours, spice shops heady with the smell of mixed curry powder and jasmine flowers, as well as garment shops with saree and salwar khameez hanging from ceilings.
Most shoppers in Brickfields’ Little India found the shopping enclave safe but want Kuala Lumpur City Hall to regulate the traffic where haphazard double-parking was prevalent along Jalan Tun Sambanthan.
In Klang’s Little India, shoppers wanted Klang Municipal Council to close a lane on both sides of Jalan Tengku Kelana to motorists and turn them into pedestrian malls for shoppers’ safety.
South Klang OCPD Asst Comm Shamsul Amar Ramli, when contacted by StarMetro, said the police had increased patrols around Jalan Tengku Kelana, Jalan Pulasan, Jalan Mohet, Lorong Tingkat and the surrounding areas.