Friday, October 16, 2009

Festival of Lights in Brickfields

It will be Deepavali (Diwali if you are North Indian) tomorrow, and there is joy and anticipation in the air. I have friends to visit and plans for the day. I thought it would be a good idea to drop by Brickfields on Thursday evening for a thali meal or perhaps some thosai. I took the Light Rail Transit to KL Sentral as I was aware that there would be massive traffic congestion in Brickfields.

All the major shopping malls in KL would be decorated with kolam (North Indian: Rangoli) by now, and perhaps carnatic music would play in concourse areas and hotel lobbies to put patrons in the mood. To me, however, nothing could come close to the experience of being in the Little India of Brickfields in the days leading up to Deepavali. I find the painstakingly crafted kolams and villaku prayer lamps in shopping centres sterile and self-conscious, and lacking the genial festive urgency of places like Brickfields, Lebuh Ampang and Klang Town.

Brickfields is of especial interest to me because of its historical significance, its houses of worship and also the simple fact that it used to be my playground. In the 1990s, I would frequent Skoob Books in the row of shophouses behind the YMCA, and in 2005-2006, I used to play football in the evenings after work with Priya, Ravi and gang at the YMCA field.

Even the stalls in the KL Sentral terminal are given a festive touch, but they lack the warmth and cheerful disorder of the street stalls in Brickfields.

Murukku and Pakora by the kilogramme.

Indian sweets to tempt the palate. The orange one in the foreground, jelebi, is my favourite. And I wonder why my teeth are in the state they are in!

Salwar Khameez, kurtas and Punjabi suits in Bollywood colours on offer along Jalan Thamby Abdullah.

Flowers and incense for the prayer room, sold at the corner of Jalan Thamby Abdullah.

Flowers for prayers. Most of the flowers used in the garlands are chrysanthemums and jasmines.

A balloon man doing brisk business due to the wheedling of young children accompanying their parents on shopping trips.

Wall-hangings and ornamental lampshades from India to add a dash of bold colour to your home.

What's the Festival of Lights without colourful decorative lights?

Religious idols and artwork for sale. The largest framed artwork is a rather fear-inspiring one of Kali, Goddess of Time, Change and Destruction. The two white ceramic figurines in meditative pose on the table are of Lord Ganesha (left) and Lord Hanuman (right).

May the Festival of Lights bring us enlightenment, joy and peace! Deepavali Valthukal!

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