GEORGE TOWN: Three major festivals – Songkran, Tamil New Year and Vaisakhi – add an air of festivity to the general election activities throughout the country.
Songkran heralds the Thai New Year while the Tamil New Year and Vaisakhi are ushered in by the Tamils and Sikhs, respectively.
In Penang, revellers splashed and sprayed water at one another during the Songkran festival at the Wat Chaiya Mangalaram Temple in Burmah Lane while others smeared talcum powder on each other’s faces.
The splashing ritual is believed to bring good luck and ward off evil.
There are some 80,000 Malaysian Siamese in the northern states of the peninsula.
Foreigners joined in the revelry, too, like Australian Rachael Day, 31, and her husband Drew Miller, 33, who have lived in Penang for two-and-a-half years.
“Songkran has become one of my favourite festivals. It’s interesting and fun, and a beautiful way to celebrate,” said Day.
Housewife Monisha Kaur, 57, was busy preparing for the Tamil New Year and Vaisakhi. A Tamil married to a Sikh, Monisha said her family has always had a joint celebration as the two festivals are usually on the same day or a day apart.
“It’s a blend of two celebrations. We will take my mother-in-law to the gurdwara tonight and tomorrow evening, my husband and I will go to the Waterfall Hilltop Temple,” she said.
Varisha Piruppu or Puthandu marks the first day of the first month, Chittirai, in the Tamil calendar. The year that begins today is known as the Vilambi year.
As for the Sikhs, they are ushering in Vaisakhi to commemorate the formation of the Khalsa brotherhood which unified all Sikhs, and the harvest festival.
In his Twitter page, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak wished Happy New Year to the Indian community.
“In conjunction with the Chittirai, Vishu New Year and Vaisakhi Festival this year, I take this opportunity to say ‘Chittirai Putthandu Vaalthukal’ and ‘Vishu Ashamsakal’ to the Tamil and Malayali communities in Malaysia.
“Not forgetting our friends from the Sikh communities, I wish ‘Aap Sab Nu Vaisakhi Di Lakh Lakh Vadai Hovey’,” he said.
In Petaling Jaya, Malaysian Hindu Sangam president Datuk R.S. Mohan Shan wished the Hindus a peaceful and harmonious festival.
He said the Hindu Sangam will be having a celebration from 2pm onwards at Little India, Brickfields, tomorrow with a variety of traditional food and cultural shows.
Malaysia Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MAICCI) president Tan Sri Kenneth Eswaran hoped the New Year will bring luck to Indian business owners and entrepreneurs.
“I am positive that this Tamil New Year will generate a prosperous economic environment to our nation as well as for the Indian community,” he said in a statement in conjunction with the Tamil New Year.
Eswaran added that it was important for business owners and entrepreneurs to move in tandem with the fast-moving technological evolution to prosper.
“Technology is becoming the central axis of living today. “In the business world, digital technologies have reshaped the way business is done. We as entrepreneurs have to adapt to these changes to stay relevant and competitive in this robust economy,” he added.
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