Deepavali the ‘Festival of Lights’ in Malaysia

Deepavali or more commonly known as the ‘Festival of Lights’, is celebrated by the Hindu community and is a day for all races and religions.

The festival signifies the triumph of good over evil, a battle we all strive to achieve in life, wouldn’t you agree? Perhaps this is what draws in the Western crowd to this luminous and joyous event.

In commemoration of Lord Rama and his wife Sita’s return to Ayodhya after his 14-year exile, the religious event falls on the day before the new moon. Sita was one of the most popular goddesses in the Hindu religion. Sita and Lord Rama’s love is like that of Romeo and Juliet, meeting on a balcony and falling in love at first sight.

The celebration consists of lively open houses, firework displays and a variety of Indian cuisine. Prior to the festivities, the Hindu households conduct a massive clean of their homes, where oil lamps are lit and placed around the home. Hindu Temples all over Malaysia are decorated lavishly with flowers and offerings are made by devotees. On the morning of the festival, those part of the occasion will take an oil bath before heading to the temples for various prayers and rituals. The oil bath symbolises the washing away of dirt and evil.

Once that’s over, their houses are then opened up to family, friends and neighbours for the most important part, the feast. From sweetmeats to rice pudding, you’ll find food aplenty during this festival even if you’re not local to the area. Murukku is a traditional savoury snack that is worth trying. Made from rice and urad dal flour, it’s mixed usually with sesame or cumin seeds and then deep-fried to give it that delicious crunch.

If you’re a first-time traveller to Kuala Lumpur, you’ll find plenty of places to eat in. Most restaurant and shops will be operating as usual but any Indian-owned businesses are likely to be closed.

A great place to see those preparing for the festival would be at Little India Brickfields, a five-minute walk from the KL Sentral station. Here, you’ll see flocks of people stocking up on spices, buying religious items as well as traditional clothing. It’s like happy hour in Chelmsford, an exciting and buzzing atmosphere that’s not one to miss.

Visiting the Hindu temples, Sri KondaswamyKovil Hindu Temple and Sri Mahamariamman Temple are also recommended for some great photo opportunities. Be sure to dress appropriately when visiting these areas (no short sleeves or shorts).

You’ll also find some of the major shopping malls are decorated with colourful lights and Deepavali decorations. As well as this, you’ll also probably come across intricate floor designs known as Rangoli. These designs are made from coloured rice powder, which are often placed at the entrance of the mall a few weeks before. These designs are typically in the form of flowers and animals.

If you find yourself seeking Malaysian restaurants on your doorstep, the best restaurants in London, like Banana Tree, can offer traditional favourites you’d find in Kuala Lumpur such as the Malaysian Prawn Kari or The Legendary Rendang, the undisputed ‘King of Curries’

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