Taarani and her family in traditional attire after visiting her paternal grandparents' grave in Alor Gajah, Melaka last year. — Picture by Taarani Rajendran.
Taarani and her family in traditional attire after visiting her paternal grandparents’ grave in Alor Gajah, Melaka last year. — Picture by Taarani Rajendran.

PETALING JAYA, November 9 — Deepavali is just around the corner and the conditional movement control order (CMCO) means a somber Festival of Lights with family reunions and open houses off the cards.

For Susmita Sandrasegaran,19, who is pursuing medicine in Universiti Malaya Sabah (UMS), this year will be her first celebrating Deepavali away from her family due to the CMCO.

“This is my first time celebrating Deepavali away from my family in Ipoh and it is not going to be as joyous as before as I will not be with my three siblings and parents.”

Her usual Deepavali celebrations with her family begin with going to the temple for their prayers, before heading home to cook for their family.

Susmita and her family celebrating Deepavali together has always been a highlight of the festivities. — Picture by Susmita Sandrasegaran
Susmita and her family celebrating Deepavali together has always been a highlight of the festivities. — Picture by Susmita Sandrasegaran

“Mum’s signature dish is mutton biryani served with chicken sambal and raita is her best – something that I won’t be able to indulge in this year.”

The 19-year-old told Malay Mail that she will be spending time with her friends in their dormitory watching movies as they are not allowed to outside the campus.

“I will also be making video calls to my family on Deepavali and will also be spending time revising my monthly tests which fall the week after Deepavali.

“I was prepared for my studies in UMS to mean spending less time with family during important festivities such as Deepavali because of my ongoing tests, assignments and the distance from here to home,” she said.

Roshene Veerasingam, who works as a tour consultant in Kuala Lumpur, both she and her sister are unable to reunite with their parents in Seremban because of the current CMCO.

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“For Deepavali every year, my cousins, uncles and aunts would gather at my grandparents’ home in Gombak and we would cook our usual dishes such as string hoppers, chicken curry, mutton curry, fried cabbage and rasam.

“And we would have an open house just for our close friends and relatives. But that plan has come to a halt due to the current situation.

“As for my sister and I who will be celebrating the occasion together, we might just call a few cousins staying closer to us and we might also make a video call to our parents on the first day of Deepavali,” she said.

The 32-year-old says the festivities this year will not be the same without her parents joining in and being with them.

Roshene Veerasingam is missing her parents who will not be celebrating the occasion with her sister and herself in Gombak. — Picture by Roshene Veerasingam.
Roshene Veerasingam is missing her parents who will not be celebrating the occasion with her sister and herself in Gombak. — Picture by Roshene Veerasingam.

Taarani Rajendran who hails from Melaka, meanwhile is hopeful that she will be able to spend Deepavali with her family and extended family next year once the CMCO is lifted.

The 26-year-old, an engineer with Dell told Malay Mail with fewer relatives and her two sisters stranded in Klang Valley because of the CMCO, her family needs to make the best of things in the current situation.

“There is nothing much we can do about the travel restrictions, and I told my sisters who are based in Klang Valley to just stay where they are and not come back.”

Taarani who would usually spend her Deepavali with her relatives and friends visiting their home said that this year, the celebration will be much quieter with fewer family members joining the celebration.

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Taarani who comes from a big family would usually see their relatives gather in her grandfather's house every Deepavali. — Picture by Taarani Rajendran.
Taarani who comes from a big family would usually see their relatives gather in her grandfather’s house every Deepavali. — Picture by Taarani Rajendran.

“Our family would usually have our oil bath performed by my eldest uncle and then we would visit the graves of our grandparents and bring some offerings.

“We would also take pictures of ourselves and our grandparents’ graves as well, but this year, we are not so sure of our plans.

“Once we’re home, we would serve our signature dishes consisting of mutton peratal, thosai and a chicken dish,” she said.

Asked as to how different this year’s celebration would be, she said that she would be making Deepavali cookies without her two sisters to help her.

“I’m so used to making Deepavali cookies with my sisters helping me make the dough from scratch while I would do the final touches to the cookies. But this process has become less exciting without them to help me this year.

“And my family will not be extending invites to friends because of the limited number of people allowed in a house.

“We have even planned on putting a signage outside the house saying ‘No Visitors’ except a few of our relatives who are based in Melaka itself,” she said.

“As such, we will have more time to ourselves as we would not be entertaining our continuous batch of visitors for the day and will watch movies together.”



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