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FOR most Johorians, this Deepavali will be extra special, thanks to the reopening of borders with Singapore this year after being closed for two years.

As most of them work in the island republic or have a family member there, they haven’t been able to be together for the festivities since 2020.

StarMetro spoke to some of them about how they plan to celebrate the Festival of Lights this year.

make preparations

Baking festive treats with his mother and sisters, decorating the house with his father, and going to the temple on Deepavali morning with the whole family were some of the tasks that R. Paveethra missed in the past two years.

The 26-year-old accounting development assistant who works in Singapore has not been able to return home for Deepavali since 2020, leaving her to celebrate the festival away from her loved ones.

“I am very excited for Deepavali this year. I decided last December to take a long holiday to celebrate it at home this year, whether the border is reopened or not. I was determined to be home for this. Two years is too long.

“Luckily the border has reopened this year and I can not only celebrate Deepavali at home but also join in the fun of preparing for the occasion,” she said at her home in Skudai, Johor Baru.

The border between Johor and Singapore was closed between March 2020 and April this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pavethra said her sister, who moved to Singapore in 2020, was also unable to celebrate Deepavali with their family in Johor due to the border closure.

“In 2020, I celebrated Deepavali with my housemates in Singapore as my sister had just moved there.

“I was very sad to be away from home but tried to make the most of it by making muruku and other treats to cheer up my friends who were in the same situation.

“Last year I celebrated the festival in Singapore with my sister and her husband. This year we will finally be together for the first time after two years,” she said, adding that she was looking forward to it. to celebrate the special occasion.

Paveethra said her family’s Deepavali preparations started about two months ago and she crossed the border almost every weekend to help.

“We painted our house and shopped early to make sure everything would be fine. My mom also started baking cookies about two weeks ago.

“We wanted this year’s Deepavali to be special. For the past two years we have had muted celebrations and now is the time for us to pull out all the stops to make it a special day,” she said.

Paveethra’s family will also host an open house with guests numbering around 60 people.

“Every year before the Covid-19 pandemic, we will welcome friends and family members to our house on Deepavali evening.

“It will be a busy day for us as we will be cooking for dozens of people, but it will be worth it as we will be able to share our special day with those who are dear to us,” she said.

Her family also has a tradition of coordinating the color of their clothes on Deepavali, and this year’s color theme is turquoise.

It’s a similar experience for G. Thivia, 27, a corporate communications intern. Her brother, who works in Singapore, will celebrate Deepavali with them after a one-year hiatus.

“My brother got an engineering job in Singapore just before Deepavali last year and he couldn’t come home to celebrate with us.

“Although all the other family members are together for Deepavali in Johor, it doesn’t seem complete with one member missing. We were never far from each other during Deepavali.

She said the family made it a point to be together every Deepavali despite the circumstances and last year was the first time a member was absent.

Thivia is also happy to be able to visit her family in Singapore after two years.

Her family, she said, would welcome relatives and friends on the first day of Deepavali, a tradition they had followed for years.

“We have many Chinese and Malaysian neighbors visiting us in Deepavali,” she said.

The family, she said, were going on a pre-Deepavali trip to Thailand and needed to make preparations for the celebration earlier.

“This is our first family trip in two years,” added Thivia.

Busy but happy

Deepavali is always a busy time for businessman A. Arumugam, 65, who runs a family textile business in Johor Baru’s Jalan Trus.

However, this does not stop him and his family from having a joyful and grand celebration of the festival.

The father of three expects to see dozens of customers entering his store. He also has a stall in a Deepavali bazaar.

“Deepavali is a very busy time for us, especially the day before, as many last-minute shoppers will enter my shop and the bazaar stall. I expect to be home only around 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning.

“Normally my wife and I will run the business together, but this year I told her to focus on the necessary preparations at home.

“As we strive to ensure our customers have a fulfilling Deepavali, we need to ensure that our own celebration is just as special,” he said.

Arumugam said business has been good since the beginning of the month.

“In addition to selling textiles and ready-to-wear, we also provide tailoring services.

“There are daily orders from customers for the making of traditional clothing. On average, we receive around 20 orders per day,” he added.

As for the preparations for Deepavali’s sales, he said they started two months ago when the women of his family traveled to India to personally choose fabrics and designs for textiles and garments.

“They know well what is required.

“We don’t want to sell outdated items that may not be in fashion this year,” he said.

As for his own preparations, he said they would only begin a few days before the occasion.

“We started late but we sorted everything out. Cookies have been purchased and the caterer has been booked,” he said.

Arumugam said he would celebrate Deepavali with his family in Melaka for the first time in two years.

“It’s great to finally be able to see all of our family members again after so long.

“We also have family members living abroad who have not been able to return for the past two years. Really looking forward to seeing everyone again,” he added.


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