KUCHING: The state government should declare Deepavali as a public holiday to enable all Sarawakians to feel the unique mood and atmosphere of the Festival of Lights, said Indian community leader Penghulu T Komarusamy.
“This will allow everybody to join in the celebration and be happy in the spirit of goodwill and have a feeling of oneness,” he said when met by The Borneo Post at his home yesterday.
He opined that making it a public holiday would not only make the relatively small Indian community in the state very happy but would also enable locals to better understand Indian cultures.
Komarusamy said Deepavali was a religious festival, but it also has a social element in that Hindus too would hold open house for their relatives and friends to visit them.
“The word Deepavali means `a row of lights’ and it signifies the triumph of brilliance over darkness … meaning knowledge over ignorance or justice over tyranny,” said Komarusamy, who is also Malaysia Hindu Sangam (Sarawak branch) chairman.
He elaborated that the festival is celebrated in the Tamil month of ‘Aipasi’, that is between October and November, during which there is no moon.
“It is the biggest of all festivals celebrated by the Hindu community in the country.”
Kapitan Lucy Lingam agreed with T Komarusamy’s stand that despite being a minority group, they deserved a public holiday to celebrate the auspicious occasion.
When The Borneo Post called on her, she and her family were making a kolam, that depicts Lord Ganesha, at the car porch.
Lucy, who is also Sarawak Indian Woman president and SUPP Batu Lintang’s Indian Affair Biro chairperson, however, expressed her gratitude and appreciation to the state government for taking good care of the welfare of the Indian community.
“There are only about 10,000 Indians statewide, but we are doing well. The present government has ensured that we are not neglected and left behind.
“I am proud to say that the majority of the Indians are loyal to the government.”
As such, she suggested a special quota be set for the employment of Indians, especially those with certificates and diplomas, in the civil service.
She also appealed to the government to look into the possibility of setting up a Tamil pre-school for those from the lower income
group.“It is not specially targeted for Indian children because others can send their children there as well.”
On women issues, Lucy advised unemployed women to consider venturing into the small cottage industry, including those dealing with beads and crafts.“The days of women staying at home are not relevant anymore. At times, like this, when the economy is not stable, it takes two to support the family.”
Lucy also appealed for more professional Indian women to join Sarawak Indian Society and play active roles in contributing to the betterment of the Indian community in particular and the society in general.As for her Deepavali greetings, she uttered: “Good luck to students sitting for public examinations this year.
“I hope they will excel with flying colours. And promotion and increment to those in the civil service.”
Today, Lucy and her family will visit the temple to pray and seek forgiveness from the elders before holding an open house at her home.