KUALA LUMPUR: The Tamils, Malayalees and Sikhs in Malaysia are set to observe their respective major festivals on April 14 but, this time, the celebrations will be low-key and at home due to the movement control order (MCO) over Covid-19.

These festivals are the Chittirai Puttandu New Year of the Tamils; Vishu of the Malayalees and Vaisakhi of the Sikhs, all of which fall on the same date this year.

They are usually celebrated on a grand scale across the country to usher in a new beginning for the Indian community annually.

It is the first time in memory that the three festivals will be observed quietly in the homes of the three communities because the MCO period ends only on April 14, and there could be an extension depending on how successfully the chain of Covid-19 infection has been broken.

Malaysia Hindu Sangam president Datuk RS Mohan Shan advised the Tamil community to celebrate Chittirai Puthandu at home with loved ones.

“This year, the new year begins at 10.04 pm on April 13 but the prayers will take place on the next day. The prayers can be held at home (on April 14) because of the MCO. You don’t have to go to the temple,” he said when contacted by Bernama.

The birth of the Tamil month of Chittirai is marked annually on the first day of the Tamil solar calendar, known this year as the Sarvari Year.

Malaysia Hindhudhrama Maamandram president Sri Radhakrishan Alagamalai, echoing a similar view, said the best way to observe the festival during the MCO period is to have a simple celebration but in keeping with the Tamil culture and traditions.

“God is giving the time for all of us to celebrate with our families. Use this time wisely to observe the occasion with our (respective) families without going out. Cook the traditional vegetarian meals and enjoy with family members at home,” he told Bernama.

President of the Malaysian Hindu Malayalee Cultural & Traditional Association (Pakar Malayalee Malaysia), Dr N R Nambiar, advised the Malayalee community in the country to emphasise simplicity in celebrating Vishu.

Vishu marks the first day of the Zodiac New Year, the first day of the month called Medam, according to the official panjangam (almanac) of Sri Guruvayoorappan Devaswom Kerala; Kerala Mathrubumi Panjangam; Kerala Valya Panjangam and Kerala Manorama Panjangam. 

Malayalees believe that the new year will be better if one views auspicious joyful things as the first thing on Vishu. 

“People can prepare the Vishukkani, which is a panorama of auspicious items, with just bananas, betel leaves, flowers, Tulasi (basil), Konnapoo (Cassia fistula flower), sacred Hindu texts, money, grains, rice and an image of Lord Krishna.

“For the Vishukkani (tray of items), which is usually prepared by the eldest female in the family, one can use flowers from the garden and not buy particular flowers from the florist. The occasion can be a social gathering with the family at home,” he said.

He said a small celebration among family members with minimal traditional food and prayers will still be meaningful, especially during the MCO period.

Nambiar also called on Malaysian Malayalees to pray for Malaysia and the world to be free from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (SNSM) former president Pavandeep Singh said that this year Vaisakhi, the Punjabi and Sikh New Year which is also a spring harvest festival, will be celebrated electronically — e-Vaisakhi — where the community can continue to enjoy the bliss of kirtan (devotional singing) by renowned ragi jathas (devotional singing groups).

He said the NGO SIKHinside has started streaming live Satsang or spiritual discourses via the SIKHinside Facebook page as Sikhs cannot congregate at the Gurdwara for these activities during the MCO period. 

“This year’s Vaisakhi celebration is special as it allows us to celebrate by being much closer with our loved ones. Taking it positively, the call to stay safe in our homes does not mean we cannot celebrate this joyful occasion. 

“Make cookies and all the other favourite delicacies and use the social media to be in touch with all your other family members and friends,” he said.

The virtual Satsang started on March 23 and will continue until April 14. Akhand Path, continuous non-stop recital of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji religious scripture, will also be streamed live from 8 am on April 12 to 8.30 am on April 14. – Bernama