I am seeing many people here who express antagonism towards other people using the term ‘Happy Diwali’ instead of ‘Happy Deepavali’ because when using the word Diwali, the person is apparently ashamed to be Tamil and instead associate themselves with North Indians, the convenient victim being Dato Shahrukh Khan.
The persons using the word Diwali are being compared to Malay Muslims here who use Eid Mubarak instead of Selamat Hari Raya, citing that they are Northerner Indians wannabees like how Malays are Arab wannabees.
Well, the Indian race is not homogeneous. And, not only North Indians use the word Diwali – Telugu people say Diwali and they are SOUTH INDIANS. Malayalam people say Deepaveli. Punjabi people say Diwali too and all three sub Indian races live here as Malaysians.
Malays and Arabs are a different race altogether, so the context is out of context. Indian is a race as a whole.
North Indians celebrate Deepavali to commemorate the return of Lord Ram from exile.
South Indians celebrate Deepavali in conjunction with Lord Krishna killing the demon Naragasura.
The truth about Deepavali
In actuality, Deepavali is not an important celebration for South Indians, particularly for Tamils. Thai Ponggal (Harvest Festival) is the most important festival due to agriculture. Ponggal is also known as Tamilar Thirunaal and in India, it’s celebrated in an elaborate fashion and festivities stretch for days. North Indians’ most important festival is Deepavali – they burn down grandiose Ravanan’s effigies stuffed with fire crackers down as per Ram’s victory of vanquishing Ravanan.
Here, the biggest Hindu festival is Deepavali – we don’t even get public holiday for Ponggal.
The Chinese say Gong Xi Fa Cai or Kong Hee Fatt Choy – no issues there. But we fret when ‘Happy Diwali’ is used instead of ‘Happy Deepavali’, touting that it’s a threat infiltrating Tamil. How is that not different from the Allah issue, the word Allah used by non Muslims claimed will confuse Muslims here? We passionately opposed such radicalism but what are we in heart? Once a year also want to make so much fuss and, it’s not like there are no people who’s mother tongue term Deepavali as Diwali here. The word Diwali is internationally recognized – Obama says Happy Diwali.
We give Deepavali ang pau and my mother used to make dodol for Deepavali when we were living in the estate. We used to decorate our home with sakura flowers for Deepavali when I was little, at the time when sending Deepavali cards via snail mail was in . Kuih semperit is also a known Deepavali treat. We don’t know when and how we interspersed the Chinese and Malay festivities attributes into this Hindu religious festival but it has always been that way and that is what makes this festival of lights uniquely Malaysian.
It is these little changes that will bring about big, impacting changes for Malaysia and Malaysians. Let’s not be preoccupied by petty, divisional sentiments. If we as a society have to culturally evolve, we have to always be inclusive and pluralistic instead of homogeneous and parochial and in a multiracial, multicultural nation like Malaysia, it is critical for our very survival.
Deepavali is about light overcoming darkness. Let’s eliminate the darkness in our hearts and replace it with illumination and let it shine on all Malaysians.. Selamat Hari Deepavali, Deepaveli dan Diwali Malaysians