IT has been a time of fear and confusion these past few weeks as we are inundated daily with reports about the deadly novel coronavirus respiratory disease.
While some of the unscrupulous have taken advantage of this unsettling environment to spread fake news, prejudice and racism on social media, there are those who have stepped up and so far, cool heads have prevailed.
The government has provided consistent updates to keep the public informed. Medical specialists shared their knowledge by giving advice on how to avoid infection and debunking myths and rumours on social media. People have also called out fear-mongering and false information.
The brave personnel on the medical and security frontline have tirelessly slogged to ensure all Malaysians are safe.
This was not all: charity also expanded.
Malaysia, the world’s biggest rubber producer, is donating 18 million medical gloves and aid to Wuhan, China. Everyday ordinary citizens did their part by donating face masks and funds to those in need. Among many, there was a rise in awareness and a concerted effort for positive action.
It is a testament to how within adversity, love and compassion can still flourish.
And at this time as well, Malaysians were posed with the challenge of how to approach the Thaipusam and Chap Goh Meh celebrations – to strike a balance between ensuring safety amidst the outbreak and still keeping to cultural values, practices and religious obligations.
With the necessary precautions such as taking immune boosters, carrying hand sanitizers and wearing face masks, Malaysians went out to observe the festivities.
The celebratory atmosphere was still apparent as devotees made their way to temples across the country wearing bright strokes of colours to pay homage to Lord Muruga and fulfilled vows by carrying milk pots (paal kudam) and kavadi.
Meanwhile, singles kept to the age-old Chinese tradition of throwing mandarin oranges into lakes, rivers and sea on Chap Goh Meh, the 15th and final day of Chinese New Year in hopes of meeting their one true love.
At some temples, lantern festivals were held to mark the auspicious day.
Some found other ways of observing the festivities, such as indulging in the sweet and colourful bubur cha cha dessert – a customary dish during Chinese Valentine’s Day.
Those who preferred to avoid crowds opted instead to spend the festive season with close friends and family. During these cosier gatherings, we still saw how all the elements that make us Malaysians shine through – a sense of warmth, community and families coming together.
After all, big or small, it is the way in which we show our love and support to others and those around us during these cultural and religious occasions that form a central pillar to our society.
Any way you choose to celebrate, we are glad to know that Malaysians are keeping to the spirit of the festive season despite the challenges, and are thankful that we are still able to observe these joyous events with loved ones.
Here’s wishing everyone the best of celebrations.