AN air of festivity pervades the Esplanade in Penang where a stage has been set up for Deepavali featuring the image of a golden peacock spreading its feathers.
Placed in front of the peacock are three ‘kuthu vilaku’ oil lamps which are synonymous with the Festival of Light.
The entire setting looks magnificent from afar, with the gold peacock placed against a purple backdrop that comes with a mix of green flowers and gold leaves.
“The pandemic should not dampen our celebratory mood as our differences in this multi-racial country itself is already worth a great celebration,” said state tourism and creative committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin during the lighting ceremony on Monday.
He said appreciating the similarities and differences in histories and heritage was essential to build unity among the races.
“After the hard work of moving into Phase 3 under the National Recovery Plan, we are on the road to recovery with Penang having a commendable vaccination rate,” said Yeoh.
Penang Deputy Chief Minister ll Dr P Ramasamy, who was also present, said the festival would be a good time to spend with the family although it would be another subdued celebration with no open houses.
“Open house is something all of us look forward to as that is the place we meet our friends of all races, including strangers.
“It shows a unique celebration culture that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world.
“Let us ensure the standard operating procedures are adhered to at all times during the celebration.
“With the interstate travel allowed, we should be extra vigilant at places we visit and continue to wear face masks wherever we are,” he said.
Joining in the lighting ceremony were Penang Convention and Exhibition Bureau chief executive officer Ashwin Gunasekeran and Penang Global Tourism chief executive officer Ooi Chok Yan.