KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 4 — Hindus are celebrating Deepavali in a livelier atmosphere this year compared with last year, as they now have the opportunity to return to their hometowns and villages to celebrate a meaningful day with family, relatives and friends.
Clad in traditional colourful attire, and yet they still adopted new norms to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic by adhering to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) set.
Temples across the country are also taking precautionary measures by adopting the SOPs set by the Ministry of Health (MOH).
In Negri Sembilan, Sri Balathandayuthapani Temple, in Jalan Kuil, Seremban has been the focus of Hindu devotees in the state since 8am, to perform religious rituals.
One of the devotees, M. Sivakumar, 28, from Rembau, said that the festival of lights this year brought new meaning to him as he had the opportunity to celebrate Deepavali with his family members even though it was held in moderation.
In Penang, Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple chairman Datuk R. Subramaniam said that Hindus were happy to be able to celebrate Deepavali by visiting the temple for prayers and Deepavali celebration activities physically, after 18 months of not being able to do so due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Many people start visiting the temple from 6 am, but we only allow 50 people to enter at any one time. Hindus celebrate the festival of lights with joy this year compared with last year,” he said.
In Perak, a check found that Hindu devotees began turning up at the Kallumalai Arulmigu Subramaniar Temple in Gunung Cheroh, Ipoh, as early as 7am to perform religious rituals, while adopting SOPs as a measure to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Temple chairman M. Vivekanda said that the celebration this time was livelier than last year, and vegetarian food and sweets were distributed to visitors in pack form.
In Johor, Hindus around Johor Baru started visiting the Arulmigu Rajamariamman Devasthanam Temple in Jalan Ungku Puan, known as Johor Bahru Little India, as early as 7.30am, wearing colourful traditional attire in conjunction with the Deepavali.
The temple treasurer S. Murali said that the management followed the SOPs set by the MOH, and only fully vaccinated visitors were allowed to enter.
“This year’s celebration is lively but not as lively as before the pandemic hit the country, where in the early morning about 800 to 1,000 visitors would have been here (in the temple), but now only 100 to 150 people are allowed to enter at any one time,” he said.
In Pahang, Hindus began to visit the Sri Sithi Vinayagar Temple in Jalan Bukit Ubi, here around 8am in bright traditional attire, complete with facemask, in compliance with the SOPs set.
P. Vijaya Kumari, 53, who visited the temple with her husband R. Ramesh, 56, said that this year’s Deepavali was definitely livelier compared with last year as she was able to celebrate the festival with her two children, who live in Kuala Lumpur and Johor, respectively.
In Selangor, a check at the Sri Maha Mariamman Devasthanam Midlands Temple, Section 7, Shah Alam, found devotees queuing up and scanning attendance on the MySejahtera application, as well as taking body temperature before entering the temple to pray.
The temple chairman, R. Mohanraj, 64, said that today’s ceremony went smoothly as devotees complied with the SOPs at the house of worship, which is the new norm practiced by Malaysians since last year.
In Sabah, prayers and Deepavali celebration activities at the Sri Pasupathinath Alayam Temple in Bukit Padang, here went smoothly with visitors adhering to the SOPs set.
The temple president, Datuk Dr K. Mathavan said that compliance with the SOPs, including complete vaccination, wearing a face mask and practising physical distancing, are being prioritised by the temple management.
In Kedah, a check at the Sri Maha Mariamman Devasthanam Temple in Alor Setar found that the situation was under control with good SOP compliance, no congestion and devotees joyfully celebrating Deepavali.
State Agriculture and Food Industry, Plantation Industries and Commodities, Transport and Indian Community Affairs Committee chairman, Azman Nasrudin, said that this year’s Deepavali was celebrated in a livelier atmosphere as the majority of the Kedahans were fully vaccinated. — Bernama