Deepavali in Malaysia is celebrated by the local Hindu community in commemoration of Lord Rama and his wife, Sita’s return to Ayodhya after his 14-year exile, signifying the triumph of good over evil. Also called ‘Diwali’ or Festival of Lights, the religious event falls on the day before the new moon according to the lunar calendar so this year’s Deepavali takes place on 18th October.
As with most festivals in Malaysia, Deepavali is a day for people of all races and religions getting together with lively open houses, fireworks displays, and a wide range of Indian delicacies. About a week prior to the celebration, Hindus conduct a massive spring-cleaning of their homes while lit oil lamps are placed around different areas of the house, especially on the porch and balcony.
Meanwhile, Hindu temples all over Malaysia are lavishly decorated with flowers while offerings of fruit and coconut milk are placed at altars by devotees. Some also prepare for this festival by going on a fast or vegetarian diet.
On the morning of Deepavali, many Hindus take an oil bath before heading to the temples for prayers and ceremonial rites. For the rest of the day, they usually open their houses to guests, friends, and neighbours to feast on delicious Indian food such as sweetmeats, rice puddings, and murukku, a type of fried flour cookie.