Family shares Deepavali joy with everyone

Mrs Parvathi Rajesh, CEO of Sree Maha Mariamman Temple, receiving blessings from a priest on Deepavali yesterday. She was there for morning prayers with her family (behind from right) - daughter Vaishnavi Kalyani, father Ramasamy Varadan and mother K
Mrs Parvathi Rajesh, CEO of Sree Maha Mariamman Temple, receiving blessings from a priest on Deepavali yesterday. She was there for morning prayers with her family (behind from right) - daughter Vaishnavi Kalyani, father Ramasamy Varadan and mother Kalyani Ramasamy, who is president of the temple in Yishun.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Every Deepavali, Mrs Parvathi Rajesh, 50, and her family celebrate the Festival of Lights with some 100 guests at her Yio Chu Kang home. Most are not Indians or Hindus.

"It is a tradition to receive guests during Deepavali to share the joy," said Mrs Parvathi, chief executive officer of the Sree Maha Mariamman Temple in Yishun.

"Our Chinese neighbours will always drop by to celebrate the day with us, while people who have worked with the temple, such as our tentage vendor, often visit as well," she said.

Yesterday's festivities for Mrs Parvathi and her family started with morning prayers at 6am. They later visited the temple, before returning home to receive guests from 5pm.

"My mother loves offering home- cooked food to our guests and still does," Mrs Parvathi said. "But this year, we have also catered some food to ease her workload."

Mrs Parvathi's mother, Mrs Kalyani Ramasamy, 67, is president of the Sree Maha Mariamman Temple and also solemnises marriages.

Four generations of the family have been associated with the 85-year-old temple. Mrs Parvathi, a former lawyer and temple volunteer, took on the CEO post 10 years ago.

The temple sees a few thousand devotees on Deepavali every year and the number has been steadily growing, said Mrs Parvathi.

To cope with the surge in visitors, the temple has received some help. "We have four resident priests at the temple, but have flown in three more priests from India for the festive season," she said.

"Many of the devotees who visit our temple are new citizens and permanent residents who enjoy coming here with their families."

Deepavali was celebrated at many places across the island yesterday.

The Deepavali Mall, a bazaar opposite Mustafa Centre in Serangoon, featured 120 stalls as well as performances and an on-site amusement park. At the Indian Heritage Centre, admission fees were waived for all visitors in celebration of the Hindu festival.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2015, with the headline 'Family shares Deepavali joy with everyone'. Print Edition | Subscribe