~ Deepavali ~
Festival Date -
13 OCT 2012
Deepavali is also known as Diwali, or the Festival of Lights. Light
is significant in Hinduism because it signifies goodness. So, during
the Festival of Lights, 'deeps', or oil lamps, are burned throughout
and into the night to ward off darkness and evil.
celebrated on the last day of the last month of lunar calendar.
There are various alleged origins attributed to this festival. Some
hold that they celebrate the marriage of Lakshmi with Lord Vishnu.
In Bengal, the festival is dedicated to the worship of Kali. It also
commemorates that blessed day on which the triumphant Lord Rama
returned to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana. On this day also Sri
Krishna killed the demon Narakasura.
In Malaysia, it is celebrated as the day the evil Narakasura was
slain by Lord Krishna. The triumph of light over darkness and good
over evil. The mood starts a month beforehand with the preparation
of the various array of Indian cookies such as murukku, ommapadi,
chippi, atharasum, nei orundei and the wall breaker
Of course, there is the inevitable shopping and work to be done that
requires everything to be new and clean, from curtains to clothes
for family members. Normally on Deepavali eve, Padayai or offerings
and prayers are made to ancestors and deceased family members. After
this ceremony, the women are busy in the kitchen while the rest of
the family do the house by hanging new curtains, placing new settee
covers and the like to welcome Laxmi, the goddess of prosperity.
Getting up early before sunrise, oil is applied on heads and a bath
is taken. This ritual oil bath is known as "ganga-snanam" and is
done to cleanse one of the impurities of the past year. Prayers are
held at the family altar, after which the family gathers before the
elders to receive their blessings.
Then the guests come by and food cooked is prepared "halal" or
kosher so as to be served to Malay Muslims. Here again, the concept
of open house is seen and an intermingling of friends of different
races come by to greet a Happy Deepavali. It also is a great
opportunity to dig in on some delicious Indian curry and cookies.
Most Malaysian Indians are South Indian Hindus in origin. Here, even
though Deepavali is known as the festival of lights, there are no
oil lamps being lit. Rather it is usually done on another religious
festival called Karthika Villaku
which comes about a month later.
The most happiest celebrants are, of course, the children who
collect gleefully the yellow packets with money in them - an adaptation
of the Chinese red ang pow packets. celebrants try to squeeze the the
month-long festivities into one day of public holiday and four to
five days of leave from work.
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