Deepavali equates to an abundance of sumptuous food! In particular, it is on this special occasion when biryani is a must-have in most Indian households. Although it is relatively easy to get your hands on a plate of biryani at hawker centres and restaurants all over Singapore, relishing it on Deepavali is accompanied by an extra special kick. My mother is one of numerous ladies who takes pleasure in cooking biryani on Deepavali day, along with a spread of other delicious Indian dishes.

It is my annual duty to taste every single one of these accompaniments together with the aromatic biryani rice. Since it my thalai Deepavali (the first Deepavali celebrated as a married couple) this year, I am looking forward to an extra special feast at my mother’s and in-laws’ homes. Food really does taste divine during Deepavali, and Indian cuisine sure hits all the right notes with the addition of flavourful spices to each dish.

Apart from the gastronomical delights served up during the festival of lights, the tradition of taking an oil bath on the morning of Deepavali day has always been a meaningful act to me, both spiritually and scientifically. The ritual awakens the positivity in me and my environment, not just for that day but throughout the entire year. The process of the oil bath provides me with the feel of a new year and a fresh beginning.

It allows me to reflect upon the various aspects of my life; personal and family accomplishments, my contributions to society, my strengths and weaknesses, as well as my plans for a new start.

In a symbolical sense, the oil bath on Deepavali day suggests physical cleansing of the body and a spiritual cleansing of the mind. It is also meant to signify the removal of all unnecessary anger, egoism, pride and jealousy, followed by the forgiving of those who have caused grief or hurt, and the forgetting of negative events in the past.

The process of preparing for Deepavali can be quite tiring given the arguments over certain selections and the several hours of spring cleaning. Nevertheless, these petty aspects can be easily overlooked as the joy experienced on Deepavali day itself is unparalleled. The tasting of sweets and savouries, the buffet spread of mouthwatering food, the receiving of money packets, the special programmes on television and finally, the selfie with family, friends and guests clad in traditional wear – that’s the icing on the cake!

Ruthra is a young, inspiring Tamil language teacher in a primary school in Singapore. She holds a Bachelors of Arts in Tamil Language & Literature. She takes an active interest in teaching the language creatively by exploring different modes of pedagogy. Ruthra also hosts a personal interest in Tamil literature and enjoys penning short stories whenever she gets some time to herself.

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