Family's four generations gather for Deepavali

Madam Nadeson Pillai Muthulaxmy with her granddaughters (clockwise from left) Gangaa, Yamunaa, Radha, Tia, Divya and Karthiga at the Deepavali gathering at her flat in Henderson Road yesterday.
Madam Nadeson Pillai Muthulaxmy with her granddaughters (clockwise from left) Gangaa, Yamunaa, Radha, Tia, Divya and Karthiga at the Deepavali gathering at her flat in Henderson Road yesterday.PHOTO: MARGARET ALICE

Yesterday, more than 50 members of Madam Nadeson Pillai Muthulaxmy's family converged on her three-room flat in Henderson Road to uphold an annual family tradition.

The 96-year-old former babysitter, now the matriarch of a family spanning four generations, welcomed her 10 children, 24 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren on Deepavali, as she did last year and the years before.

As with previous years, the family got together to eat, talk and laugh, cherishing the rare occasion when all of them could come under one roof, with Madam Muthulaxmy at the centre.

"My mother is the most important person whom we have all come to see. It is something we all look forward to in the year. We took a lot of photos together," said Ms Margaret Alice, known as Shantha to her family and the youngest child of Madam Muthulaxmy.

The 52-year-old said Madam Muthulaxmy's grandchildren and great-grandchildren from Holland, England and Australia are in town for the festival.

In the past, the family would look forward to Madam Muthulaxmy's delicious briyani. But this year, cooking duties have been passed on to Ms Margaret's sister-in-law, after Madam Muthulaxmy had a fall in June.

"It is definitely not the same without my mum's briyani, but we still make it an occasion," said Ms Margaret, who was there with her husband and three children. "My mother just loves to see us together. She tends to be as happy as a child when we are all gathered in one place."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2019, with the headline 'Family's four generations gather for Deepavali'. Print Edition | Subscribe