All the more reason to celebrate Deepavali

V.K. SANTOSH KUMAR

Deepavali this year is a festival of gratitude for many, a time to celebrate the joys of life and get over the Covidean darkness that enveloped the world for two years or so.

Over five days starting Oct 22 and peaking on Oct 24, people will commemorate the triumph of good over evil and hope over despair, and seize the opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends.

It will be about bringing positive energy into their lives for a better tomorrow.

To theatre director Sangeeta Nambiar, Deepavali this year is "much more than a festival".

"It's lighting the way forward, after what can only be termed two very tumultuous and cruel years," she said.

"I lost my father and I couldn't even go to India to bid my final goodbye.

"With the festive mood finally setting in, the future suddenly seems bigger and brighter. I feel like we're all coming out of the 'Covid vanvas' (residence in a forest) and returning home!"

Actress and model Nisha Kumar got married at the height of the pandemic and had a child. "None of my family was around," she said.

"So this Deepavali is all about reunion and bonding with loved ones and building new memories.

"I will travel back to Malaysia and celebrate with my parents, siblings, the entire family. It will be a big affair, with plenty of food and festive cheer."

Ms Sippy Sujan, managing director of integrated information technology software solutions and services company ITCAN, felt Covid made families stronger and brought them closer.

"It made us more giving, more forgiving and more empathetic," she said.

"Deepavali unites every religion, home and heart, and awakens the inner light which has the power to outshine darkness and clear all obstacles."

Banking and finance data privacy professional Amit Joshi, who is also an actor, said Deepavali in Singapore always meant meeting his many friends who were like family and enjoying the festival in the best traditional attire. "This Deepavali is extra special because it's the first time since the pandemic that there will be no restriction on the people you can meet," he said.

Make-up artist and stylist Gayathri Menon pointed out that festivities and meetings "make our Deepavali".

"As Malayalees, we don't have much of a Deepavali celebration," she said. "So friends who celebrate make the festival absolutely worthwhile. Friendships and relationships are meant to be celebrated together with lots of love."

Model Diya Chevli had to travel to Mumbai and Dubai for assignments during the Covid period.

"I had to move around a lot and it wasn't great," she said. "Life was tough as there were a lot of restrictions in Singapore too. I was elated when things opened up. Most importantly, work got back to normal.

"My family is travelling to Thailand for Deepavali this year. But I will be staying back to take care of my dog, shooting for fashion spreads and celebrating with my friends."

Deepavali is important to GNV Group managing director Vishal Nanikram as it marks the beginning of a new Hindu year. "It rejuvenates me with a sense of freshness and renewed enthusiasm. It also a time to cleanse my mind by dropping all negative baggage," he said.

Deepavali to make-up artist Chrizangel D'Daran means "expressing love for our culture, wearing ethnic clothes and eating amazing food".

"I always share home-made Indian food and cookies with my neighbours on this very special day," she said.

Marketing professional Deepali Satpute, who is also a fashion enthusiast, said the fear and uncertainty at the height of the pandemic were hard to grapple with.

"But we were in Singapore and knew that we were being looked after well," she said.

"Now that we are without restrictions, we will celebrate this beautiful festival in its true glory. We will light the diya and do a simple pooja at home, and pray with gratitude."

The beauty of the Indian culture is its festivals and celebrations. They don't reflect religion, but brotherhood and diversity.

Deepavali teaches us to rise above our differences with new aspirations and hopes.

santosh@sph.com.sg

"With the festive mood finally setting in, the future suddenly seems bigger and brighter. I feel like we're all coming out of the 'Covid vanvas' (residence in a forest) and returning home!"

- Sangeeta Nambiar, theatre director

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