JOHOR BARU: It will be a lonely Deepavali celebration for some Malaysians working in Singapore as they opt to stay in the island republic due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Account development executive R. Paveethra (pic), 24, who has been working in Singapore for over two years, says it will be the first time she is celebrating away from her family.
“We usually start preparing for the festival two months ahead such as making traditional Indian snacks and cookies together.
“I was looking forward to doing that again with my mother and sisters but unfortunately, it would have to wait further, ” she said.
This year’s Deepavali falls on Nov 14.
Paveethra is unable to return to Johor due to work commitments in Singapore as well as the difficulties of travelling under the existing schemes.
She now plans to make traditional Indian snacks with her housemates in Singapore and go to the temple with them on Deepavali morning, to be followed by a home-cooked meal.
“I want to continue doing here the things that I normally do with my families back home. Hopefully, it will help ease the disappointment of being away for the festival, ” she said.
Security officer R. Nuhendren, 27, meanwhile, said he had decided not to go back to Johor for Deepavali this year as he wanted to “save” the trip for an emergency.
“If I go back to Malaysia under the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) for Deepavali, I will have to wait another 90 days for my next trip there. I think it will make more sense for me to save it for an emergency.
“Besides, it may be difficult for me to take leave now due to the manpower shortage at my workplace after a recent retrenchment exercise, ” he said.
For Nuhendren, who has been working in Singapore for nine years, this will also be the first time he is spending Deepavali away from his family who lives in Bukit Indah.
“I am sad to not be able to be with my family during the festival, especially as I have not seen them for almost a year.
“But I keep reminding myself that everyone is suffering because of the pandemic and my problem is not as serious as what others are going through, ” he said, adding that he would video-call his family and have a simple lunch with his friends on Deepavali day.
Tutor R. Gayathri, 32, said she and her family would be having a low-key Deepavali celebration this year with only close family members.
Her husband will be coming home under PCA at the end of this month and staying here for about a month.
“It’s a huge relief for me. I haven’t seen him since March.
“However, my brother-in-law, who also works in Singapore, will not be back as he has opted to return only next year, ” she said.
Gayathri added that her sisters, who work in Kuala Lumpur, might also not join her in celebrating the festival in Johor if the conditional movement control order (MCO) continued to be in force.
“If the MCO is lifted before Deepavali, then they will be able to celebrate it here with me; otherwise, it will just be me, my husband and my mother, ” she said.
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