A low-key Deepavali for many Malaysians this year

Mr Sankaran Shanmugam with his wife, Hambhika Nair, and their daughter in a Deepavali celebration last year. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - With the coronavirus pandemic still raging and people being unable to travel back to their hometowns in Malaysia due to movement curbs, the celebratory mood is not quite there for Deepavali this year.

However, many Malaysian families are trying to liven up the atmosphere a little for the sake of their young children.

Mr Sankaran Shanmugam and his wife Hambhika Nair said they would have a low-key celebration with close family members.

"Personally, there is not much excitement but we have a young daughter, so we hype ourselves up to get that excitement going for her. We don't want it to affect our daughter," said the 35-year-old managing director of a security company.

Ms Hambhika, 33, agreed that they merely wanted their daughter to at least experience some form of celebration in view of the enforcement of the current movement curbs.

The lawyer said that they decided to put up festive decorations as well as have a "kolam" (traditional patterns made with coloured rice flour or powder) in the house.

"I know a lot of people are worried about what is going to happen, but we don't want to drown our daughter into this kind of worry," said Ms Hambhika.

Similarly, 44-year-old Vicknesh Krishnan is also going to have a quiet Deepavali with the family, with the celebrations mainly for the benefit of his four-year-old son.

"We will be staying at my parents' place in Klang, not far from my house. It is actually more for him to see the celebrations and be with his cousins.

"I'm actually looking forward to a more relaxing environment, as we will usually go to Kuala Kangsar in Kedah to visit relatives. It is usually very busy and hectic," said the assistant manager of a dialysis centre.

Other families have also decided to celebrate Deepavali in a low-key way, like that of 41-year-old Indian national Chinmay Sharma.

He said it will only be a "very small celebration with just immediate family".

The director at a multinational company in Malaysia said they were not sure if they would go to the temple on Deepavali day, as they wanted to avoid large gatherings.

"We will be doing all the religious rituals and decorate the house but it won't be a grand celebration," he said.

Another person celebrating Deepavali in a low-key way is 42-year-old insurance executive Barathi Krishnan, who said this would be the first time in her life that she would not be returning to Kelantan to celebrate Deepavali with her family and relatives.

The 42-year-old said being in Ipoh, Perak with her seven-year-old son while her 10-year-old daughter was with her parents in Kelantan was difficult.

"I'm really sad that I am unable to celebrate with them. I cannot imagine how it will be. Usually on the first day we will celebrate at home. Then on the second day, our entire extended family will wear matching T-shirts and travel somewhere such as Langkawi, Pangkor or Perhentian.

"This year we planned to go to Redang, but we cancelled it," she said.

Meanwhile, Mr Narainasamy Sivasamy, 56, felt that Deepavali celebrations this year would "not be very joyful", as there were many people who had lost their jobs and were struggling.

"It will be a very moderate celebration. On one side, you have people suffering; on the other hand, you have a joyful experience. It is not very nice," said the human resources director at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

Mr Narainasamy said they would only have morning prayers and takeaway food for the family on Deepavali.

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