August 16, 2013
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In Malaysia, there are so many festivals as there are many cultures. For example, we have Chinese New Year, Hari Raya and Deepavali. The Malaysian Indian in our country celebrates Deepavali. My friend, Evelyn Belinda, is a Hindu herself and I got the chance to interview her while walking to our favourite restaurant for lunch.
First question; What is Deepavali?
Deepavali or Diwali is the festival of lights and happiness. It is a five-day Hindu festival celebrated by the Hindus. This festival is celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna paksha which means ‘dark fortnight’ of the Hindu calendar month Ashwin and ends on Bhaubeej and also on second lunar day of Shukla paksha, bright fortnight, of the Hindu calendar month Kartik. In the Georgian calendar which we use in our daily life, it usually falls between mid-October and mid-November.
So, on this specific day, what do Hindus do to celebrate it?
Well, early in the morning of the first day of Deepavali, before we do anything else, we have a bath called Abhyang snan which is considered as a holy bath. Other than that, we have the amazing muruku, a traditional treat, kolam, a form of painting that is drawn using rice powder, chalk, chalk powder, white rock powder and many more.
Interesting. Can you explain the whole procedure of the bath the Hindus have that first day of Deepavali?
Yeah, sure. Such are the qualities of an Abhyang snan that some experts have suggested taking it everyday to receive its benefits. Abhyang snan helps to boost blood circulation, it removes dead cells from the surface of the skin, it makes skin smooth and soft to touch, it cleans body thoroughly, and finally aromas used while performing this ritual calms the mind. The procedures are, first, wake up before sunrise on this auspicious day. Then, massage your entire body with scented oil and let the oil get absorbed in the body for about half an hour. While bathing first apply uptan, a paste of some spices and gram flour. Thoroughly massage your body with this natural scrub and rinse with water. After that, have a regular bath with the use of scented soaps. Soap with rose or sandalwood aromas are mainly used while bathing on this day. You can make use of any scented soaps. Lastly, wear your new clothes. People who follow traditional procedure prefer to wear traditional clothes on this day like sari, lehengas, churidar kurta, and salwar kameez.
Cool! It sounds like a treat at the spa. But why use scented oil instead of any other oil?
We use scented oil because they have calming effects on the mind. The pleasant aroma helps to rejuvenate mood by reducing the level of stress. Any scented oil can be used while taking abhyang snan. You can make use of aroma oils. You can make use of almond oil as the base oil. Almond oil is enriched with vitamin E and is highly beneficial for flawless skin.
Wow, really? Awesome! How about the kolam?
A Kolam is a geometrical line drawing composed of curved loops, drawn around a grid pattern of dots. In South India, it is widely practiced by female Hindu family members in front of their homes. Kolams are regionally known by different names, Raangolee in Maharashtra, Hase and Raongoli in Kannada in Karnataka, Muggulu in Andhra Pradesh and many more.
It must be fun to do those kolam. Well, I’m starving. Let’s eat, shall we?
Yes, I’m hungry too. Let’s eat.
Evelyn and I had lunch and we headed back to our homes after that. I gained knowledge of Deepavali and I got closer to my friend. You should try it. Ask your friends about their culture and get to know them better.

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