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Hi folks, it’s Easter today. I hope I’m not too late to wish you guys a Happy Easter Sunday! Is everyone sweating it out in Cadbury’s Easter Egg Chocolate Hunt? Or better yet, your own Easter egg chocolate hunt in your very own backyard? Perhaps you’re participating in your neighbourhood church’s Easter Sunday mass.
Whatever your activity is today, I hope you are enjoying yourself and having a super happy fun time! I don’t celebrate the same events as you guys do, but I do want to buy a chocolate egg for myself for personal consumption (and also to commemorate the day with everyone!). On a lighter note, here’s a simple infographic I created just for today!
I hope everyone had a wonderful Deepavali yesterday. I know I did, even if I didn’t visit any friends or attend any open houses. I had a friend return from Roswell, New Mexico for a few weeks’ holiday in Malaysia. Her husband is coming later this month but while she was here, I made some plans and took her out for lunch yesterday. After our meal, we headed back to my condo for some catching-up. It didn’t seem long that she left Malaysia to further her studies but it did seem like forever before she came back here last weekend. We spent the entire afternoon and evening exchanging life tales on my living room carpet while my cat, Loki, had a ball of a time dashing back and forth (and occasionally crashing into the sliding door and/or dining table legs). What a silly cat. I guess he enjoyed Deepavali as much too, because it was one of those days when he was allowed out of the cat room.
Even the weather was so fine yesterday. From the balcony of my ninth floor unit, the heavy rain clouds brought forth a bright blue day and a sea of white soft clouds that make you wish you could fly upwards to Heaven and sit on those clouds while having a spot of tea and scones with God. Why not.
Evening came and went and again, from my balcony, you can see a streak of orange and red across the skies. Ever since moving out of my parents’ home in a terrace house and into a high-rise condominium, I’ve been able to catch sunsets like this almost on a daily basis. Except on hazy days.
What did you guys do on Deepavali? Did you pay any friends a visit and gate-crashed their Deepavali celebrations? Or were you properly invited to sit down with your friends and their family members for a decent vegetarian meal? Some of us Malaysians have been known to have so many friends who celebrate Deepavali that we’d do a Deepavali hop from one open house to another. And end up with a food baby (defined as “a protruding stomach caused by eating a large quantity of food and supposedly resembling that of a woman in the early stages of pregnancy.” – Urban Dictionary).
Not sure what Deepavali is all about? Here, let me help you out with that.
The history of Deepavali, better known as Diwali, is chock-full of legends tied to the stories of Hindu religious scriptures, mostly the Puranas. The theme of the legends centres on the classic truth of good over evil, with a difference in characters and presentation mode. Also known as the ‘Festival of Lights’, the act of lighting lamps is equivalent to lighting the lamp of knowledge within us to reflect upon and understand the significance of each of the five days of festivities, and to bring out the thoughts in our day-to-day lives.
I have always thought that Deepavali was just a one-day event. I think many of us who don’t celebrate the festival would easily assume that. What’s worse, though, is that Deepavali is only given a one day public holiday in Malaysia, causing the rest of us to think that it’s only a one-day celebration. Actually, there is five days tied to this festive period, and here are the reasons why:
The first day is called ‘Dhanvantari Triodasi or Dhanwantari Triodasi‘, otherwise abbreviated as ‘Dhan Theras‘.
The second day is called ‘Narak Chaturdasi‘. It is the 14th lunar day (thithi) of the dark forthnight of the month of Kartik and the eve of Diwali. On this day, Lord Krishna destroyed the demon Narakasur and freed the world from fear.
The third day is the actual Diwali, when worship for Mother Lakshmi is performed.
The fourth day is called ‘Goverdhan Pooja‘ is performed.
The fifth day is called ‘Bhratri Dooj‘, and it is a day that is dedicated to sisters.
So, there you go. Diwali is actually a five-day celebration! And to think we always thought it was a one-day thing. Here are a couple of Diwali variations, one for the Sikh and the other for Jain.
The Sikh Diwali Festival is celebrated as the return of the sixth Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, from the captivity of the city, Gwailor. As a commemoration of his undying love for Sikhism, the townsfolk lit the way to Harmandhir Sahib (a reference to the Golden Temple) in his honour.
The Jain Diwali Festival celebrates the Nirvana of Lord Mahavira who established the dharma. Lord Mahavira was born as Vardhamana on Chaitra Shukla 13th in the Nata clan at Khattiya-kundapura, near Vaishali, and had obtained Kevala Gyana on Vishakha Shukla 10 at the Jambhraka village on the banks of Rijukula river at the age of 42.
My apologies for not having uploaded a blog post yesterday, as it was a public holiday in Malaysia (Awal Muharram, also known as ‘Maal Hijrah’) and I was out all day with my husband and some friends. And our outing has given me some input for a blog post today. Here’s a little tidbit about the public holiday:
Awal Muharram is an Islamic holiday which celebrates the beginning of the Islamic New Year, and is also the beginning of 10 days of remembrance for the martyrdom of Hussein ibn Ali, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed who was killed in the Battle of Karbala on the 10th day of Muharram in the year 680 AD. The word ‘Muharram‘ is derived from the word ‘haram‘, which means ‘sinful‘ in Malay, and this is a month that is considered most sacred of all besides the month of Ramadhan. During this time, Muslims are forbidden to fight; hence, a time for mourning and peace. Muslims celebrate this event worldwide, with the Shia Muslims (Shi’ite) spending the day mourning, some going to the extent of flogging themselves to commemorate the martyrdom of the Prophet’s grandson, while the Sunni Muslims will fast and celebrate the day according to the Sunnah of Mohammed, which is in the honour of Moses’ rescue of the people of Israel from the Pharaoh, sometimes on the 10th day itself.
Since my husband and I are Malaysian Chinese, we did not really celebrate it the way of the Muslims, but we did spend time with some friends whom we have not seen in months! These are my college friends whom we are quite close with, so being able to find the time to get together was also another reason to celebrate. Our first destination was VCR, a little hipster cafe joint located on Jalan Galloway (now known as Jalan Sin Chew Kee) in the area of Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur. Named after the abbreviation of ‘Video Casette Recorder’, even their Wi-Fi password was called ‘usedtape’. How quaint.
I called it a ‘hipster joint’ because of all the young Malaysian adults and yuppies who congregated there, either with friends or on their own with their faces glued to their MacBook screens. Young men decked in three-quarter surfer boardshorts, long sleeved Polo-necked tees and Canvas sneakers with iPads or man-pouches tucked under their arms, ordering coffee like it was their day-time alcohol. Young ladies perched on the benches and sipped at the decaf lattes and hot chocolate while nibbling on a cookie or two. They were either with friends or had their arms draped all over some young man of their choice. It was truly a sight to behold! I thought this happened at nightclubs but apparently, it goes on in cafes too. Backpacks, designer handbags, smartphones and other means of gadgetry were seen scattered all over the wooden tables in the cafe.
We ordered our lattes and cappuccinos and made up for lost time, catching up on all that had happened among us during the months we lost touch with one another, exchanging tales from work to dramatic relationships. We have all changed, that’s for sure, and all of us were contracted to our jobs. Others have either gone on to carve a name for themselves, left the country to start life elsewhere with someone they just met, or were still here but have somewhat dug themselves a trench to avoid the scrutiny of society.
A few long stories later, we moved on to our second and final destination at Chili’s in Bangsar Shopping Centre. This was also a result of the cafe personnel bolting from their smoking breaks outside to warn us about the City Hall tow trucks that have arrived to remove illegally parked cars from the premises. The boys dashed out to quickly drive off and park elsewhere, lest have the cars towed away with an RM300 fine to boot. But that had already spoiled our mood and thus, made a decision to leave for early dinner.
We had a great time catching up and exchanging stories. We have learnt that time is precious, friendship even more so, and we should maintain a balance of meeting up, working and having personal time out. Whether we successfully make it or not on meeting up once in awhile for coffee and dinner is one thing, but we still have to try and keep things together, or we’ll all start to drift apart.