Mama, what is Deepavali ?
It was the first question I heard this morning, when I wished my kids Happy deepavali. I tried to explain to them what is Deepavali. I couldn’t explain the essence of Deepavali to my kids, because to me Deepavali is being a Malaysian.
It is to wake up early in the morning, bath, wear new skirt and blouse and rush to Letchumi’s house and wish them Happy Deepavali and eat my breakfast of sweet rice, kesari bhath and ofcourse steal a bit of freshly made ghee urundai, the moment patti( grandmother) turns her head and talk to the visitors!
This followed by playing tag with all the kids in the neighbourhood, often bumping in to the stream of visitors, wishing them happy deepavali, helping to carry their gifts to the bedroom( in between shaking it to see, what could be inside!). My duties included, serving drinks to the visitors, filling up the murukku bowl and clearing away the used drinking glasses. When my parents come to Letchumi’s house to wish them happy deepavali, I serve them drinks and Murukku as well!.
In the evening, I would help Letchumi to light the diyas and place it all around the house. After the diyas are lit, All the kids sit outside next to the patti( grandmother) and she would tell us the stories about how goodness always win in the end. As the sun set, the diyas would illuminate the 2 bedroom single story house. It is a magical moment, until an hour ago, the house was the same like every other house in the street, walls unpainted, floor cracked, but with the diyas all around, it gets transformed in to a beautiful palace. You don’t see the cracked walls, You see a beautiful happy house. The happiness and the peace of those moments when you are with people you love is what Deepavali is all about.. It is a time to be happy, time to share, time to know that there is goodness, everywhere..
And as a Malaysian Indian, Deepavali will always be celebrated at my house, to remember those good old days and to remind my children that we will always be Malaysians, that we are fortunate to be Malaysians and can celebrate Onam, Deepavali, Hari raya, Christmas,Harvest festival and Chinese New year!, and that beyond our racial lines lay our identity.
Happy Deepavali to all of you
The photo is from www.nandyala.org. Indira’s husband Vijay took the picture last year.