Celebrating Deepavali amidst a pandemic

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Deepavali or Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights falls on 14 November. It is going to be different, since we will be celebrating Deepavali in uncertain times. How will our CoffeeMama celebrate? Read more here in her article.

Deepavali is observed by Hindus worldwide as a celebration of triumph of good over evil, as well as light over darkness. Myth has it that Deepavali is celebrated on the day Lord Krishna defeated the cruel demon king Narakasura, who oppressed his people and instilled fear in them. The rule of Narakasura was likened to darkness, and his slaying was seen as dispelling of darkness to welcome light. Hence, oil lamps are lit up during Deepavali as a symbolic reminder that darkness can be overcome through light.

celebrating Deepavali in uncertain times

I am feeling a little nervous about Deepavali celebrations this year. I may not be able to travel back to my hometown if the CMCO is not lifted in time before Deepavali, a situation many would relate to. The previous years we used to have Deepavali open house celebrations. This year it is going to be a more intimate one with a celebration amongst only close family members, since we are still not fully out of the pandemic situation yet.

In these uncertain times, the most one can do is make the best of a situation. So, I have chosen to go ahead with the usual preparations of Deepavali, whatever the circumstances. Here’s how we are preparing for Deepavali this year!

Murukkus and traditional cookies

No Deepavali celebration is complete without the murukku. This savoury, crunchy snack’s name comes from the Tamil word ‘twisted’, referring to its shape. It is tradition that families should fry sweet or savoury food items in a big pot of oil (ennai chatti) as a sign of good luck and prosperity. One can fry anything as part of this ritual, but murukku is the popular choice in most households.

In our family, we take pride in making the murukku ourselves. My kids took to the kitchen to help shape the murukku into its twisted flowery design. They used a murukku mould for this (with their Amma’s help of course). Imperfect in shape as it was, it was worth it, as it tasted awesome and the fact we made it ourselves made it all the more special.

Apart from murukkus, other famous delicacies we got into making were achu murukku (kuih ros), nei urundai (sugee balls), and Dahlia cookies. While the kids helped out with the cookies, I made it a point to tell them stories of how I celebrated Deepavali when I was a kid myself. Kids were all ears, happily listening to all of my childhood Deepavali stories while having fun making the festivity’s cookies together.

celebrating Deepavali in uncertain times

Shopping for new clothes

Deepavali indicates the beginning of the new year according to the Indian calendar. Wearing new clothes on this auspicious day is a symbolic gesture to commemorate that.

In our family, shopping for new clothes for the festivities begins about one month before the celebration day. Kids get really excited with this ritual every year, as it signifies that Deepavali will be coming real soon. It also means parading in their new outfits for family fun time.

This year’s shopping was a little different for us as compared to previous years. We decided to shop online this time, to avoid having to bring the kids through crowded shopping places. With a whole array of boys’ and girls’ traditional wears and matching accessories to buy from online, there was no problem at all getting what we wanted for Deepavali. Have a look here at our article about Brickfields. Let’s hope we can go there again soon safely!

celebrating Deepavali in uncertain times

Kolam decorations

As part of Deepavali decorations, kolams or Rangoli can be found adorning many homes. A work of art that is just as colourful as it is beautiful, it is a decoration drawn on the floor with crushed and coloured rice grains.

Not just a decorative feature, the kolam has quite a meaningful gesture too. It is a tradition meant to feed small creatures such as ants and birds, in the hope of bringing blessings and providing sustenance to the people living in the home.

My kids look forward to being the ‘creative art directors’ for the Deepavali kolam. From choosing the kolam shape and design, to filling up the kolam art with the rice colour of their choice, they pride in having bragging rights to the whole kolam creation.

celebrating Deepavali in uncertain times

Welcoming the goddess Lakshmi

Small clay lamps filled with oil are lit up during the Festival of Lights. This is to signify triumph of good over evil. The lights are kept on through the night.

Homes are also cleaned from top to bottom prior to the festival. This includes cleaning of all prayer items that will be lit up during Deepavali. It is said that a clean home welcomes the goddess Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity.

With all the cleaning and preparations going on, my kids were simply amazed by how clean and shiny everything looked in our home. “Amma, this tray looks so shiny, I can see my face”, said my son. He vainly brushed his hair, while looking into the silver prayer tray.

celebrating Deepavali in uncertain times

A celebration during unprecedented times

This Deepavali will be truly a different one from previous years. yes, we will be celebrating Deepavali in uncertain times. Having experienced the lockdown restrictions and travel limitations, I have realised however once again how valuable family time is. I will savour every minute of us being together. Truly looking forward to a simple yet meaningful Deepavali celebration this year. Happy Deepavali!

celebrating Deepavali in uncertain times

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