Deepavali Practices That Should Not Be Forgotten

Deepavali, Diwali or the Festival of Lights is happening on the 6th of November 2018, and it is mainly celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs as well as Newar Buddhists, with the celebration symbolically marking the victory of good over evil and light over darkness.

In Malaysia, people of all religion and races celebrate Deepavali, from doing open houses to visiting friends who celebrate. However, with the changing times, modern Hindus and other religions celebrating Deepavali may have forgotten the traditions and customs that were practiced by our elders.

Are you even aware of this? Here are some of the Deepavali traditions that we should start practicing again:

Get together for house cleaning

It’s the spring cleaning of Deepavali! Tidying the house thoroughly before the day of Deepavali is believed to invite the blessing of Goddess Lakshmi, who is the goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity. This includes throwing out old items, buying new furniture and for some, repainting and even doing minor house renovation.

Besides that, doing so will make the house ready to receive guests as it is customary for family and friends to visit each other houses during Deepavali. Only when the house is clean should oil lamps be lit around the home.

Taking an oil bath

Source: Ayur Hermitage

A traditional ritual that’s slowly being forgotten, especially by the youngsters. The significance of oil bathing on Deepavali is no longer considered a necessity to them as most just tend to ignore this step of the ritual and start their day by taking a regular shower instead.

The belief of taking oil baths the morning of the festival is to wash away all negativity and purifying ourselves before starting the New Year. Meanwhile, the health part of taking oil bath helps to remove heat from the body, reduce blood pressure as well as to rejuvenate the skin, eyes, and hair.

New Year, new outfits!

Many of us nowadays don’t actually spend money on buying new clothes, especially traditional attire as it will only be worn once, during Deepavali. It’s not every day that one will wear Punjabi suit to work considering that the Malaysian weather can be so unforgiving.

The tradition of wearing new clothes implies a new beginning in the New Year. But really, if you can’t afford to buy new clothes, you can wear old outfits, as long as it’s clean.

Light up the oil lamps and firecrackers

Deepavali translates to a row of lights and since it is a festival where light triumphs over darkness, it only makes sense to light up your home. Evil spirits are attracted to darkness and places with zero light. Hence, lamps are lit to weaken the evil forces.

What’s more, the oil lamps outside every home also symbolizes the inner spirit of the individual. As for the firecrackers, it signifies illumination in which the sound of firecrackers is believed to make the Gods aware of the people’s happiness on earth.

Drawing ‘kolam’ outside the home

Source: Durian Belacan

Also known as ‘rangoli’, it is usually drawn using chalk, coloured sand or dry flour. The beautiful, unique designs and vibrant colours drawn at the house entrance is done to remove negativity from the guests’ head and replace with positive vibes.

Well, you know what they say, ‘kolam’ is the positive epicenter of homes.

Making ‘oil-pot’ snacks

Source: Sify Bawarchi

It’s always much easier to buy than to make traditional snacks and cookies. But in those days, our elders would be in the kitchen for hours, frying up ‘Muruku’ as snacks for the guests. Imagine doing that.

However, the tradition of making traditional snacks at home should not be forgotten, because deep frying sweet or savory food items in a big pot of oil brings good luck and prosperity. Besides, it’s also a time for families to spend some quality time together.

In light of this, we’d like to invite everyone, especially the younger generation, to celebrate the Festival of Lights with a deeper understanding to the culture. Let’s not forget the traditions that were taught by our elders!