Also known as the Festival of Lights or Diwali, Deepavali is a religious event that celebrates the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. Based on the Gregorian calendar, Deepavali typically falls between mid-October and mid-November of every year.
According to Hindu mythology, Deepavali marks the return of Lord Ram to his hometown Ayodhya after 14 years of exile during which he defeated king Ravana and rescued his wife Sita.
Leading up to the celebration, you’ll see office buildings, shops, homes, and temples being brightly lit-up. The Hindus would prepare for the festival by decorating their homes and illuminating their houses with diyas, which are oil lamps or candles.
While Deepavali is a national holiday which falls on November 6 in Malaysia, Hindu civil servants get to enjoy an extra day off on November 7, according to FMT Online.
If you are yet to experience the beauty of Deepavali in Malaysia, you have until mid-November to savour the sweet treats or see the unique displays of kolam and lights.
Check out our list of 6 cultural things to experience during Deepavali in Malaysia:
1. Visit breathtaking Hindu temples
Visit the majestic Hindu temples in town and sharpen your photography skills! Batu Caves is a must visit on your list during the Deepavali celebration month. The limestone hill is home to a labyrinth of caves, and it’s believed to be at least millions of years old.
As you reach the entrance, the statue of Tamil God Lord Murugan is waiting to welcome you into the temple. The gold-painted statue stands at 42.7-metre tall, making it the tallest Lord Murugan statue in the world. It’s definitely a sight to behold!
And the best thing is, Batu Caves has recently been given a cool makeover. The 272 stairs that lead up to the Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple inside the cave feature a colourful new look, which will make your photo even more vibrant than ever.
Other Hindu temples worth visiting during the Deepavali month are the Sri Mahamariamman Temple near Chinatown and Sri Kandaswamy Kovil in Brickfields. The Sri Mahamariamman Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Kuala Lumpur featuring a Dravidian architecture. Meanwhile, the Sri Kandaswamy Kovil Temple is over a century old!
Before you visit any of the temples, make sure to dress appropriately to gain entrance, so avoid wearing things like sleeveless tops and shorts. If you prefer to make a visit without a large crowd, avoid visiting during peak hours like in the morning, where ceremonial rites and prayers are often conducted.
2. Shop for colourful bangles and traditional attire at Little India in Brickfields
If you’re looking for elegant saris or Punjabi suits to wear for your office’s Deepavali party, head over to Little India in Brickfields. The shops there offer an array of colourful traditional attire, accessories like bangles, and even spices that you can’t find at your local supermarket. The area is also the perfect place to see beautiful Deepavali decorations.
3. See unique displays of kolam and colourful lights
What would Deepavali be without the kolams and the lights? Kolam or Rangoli is a prominent Deepavali feature, and it’s basically a beautiful drawing on the floor using rice flour, chalk, chalk powder or rock powder. Kolams can be very colourful and intricate depending on their design. You can see many kolams being displayed in public places like shopping malls.
Major shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur like Suria KLCC, The Gardens Mall, or Pavillion KL often have amazing displays of large and colourful kolams, in addition to colourful lights and other Deepavali decorations. Some malls would even allow you to create and design your own version of kolam too at their special Deepavali markets.
4. Get a henna painting
You don’t have to wait until your wedding day to get a henna painting on your hands, arms, legs, or feet. Practically any arts or crafts market in Malaysia has a henna tattoo painting stall where you can get a henna painting, and they could last a few days to a week.
For those with super sensitive skin, opt for a henna that’s organic and made from natural sources.
5. Savour special Deepavali treats
For fans of traditional Indian treats, don’t miss your chance to savour the special treats available only during the Deepavali celebration. Mawa kachori, barfis, laddoos, and mithais are some of the popular Deepavali sweets that you can look forward to. You can find them in Little India or at any Deepavali bazaar in various shopping malls.
6. Pay a visit to your Hindu friends
Deepavali is the perfect chance to pay a visit to your Hindu friends. Join them in their celebration and enjoy a quality bonding time together. Help them light a sparkler or simply bask in the joyful atmosphere surrounded by bright lights and great company.
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