The triumph of good over evil, light over darkness. This simple idea is at the heart of the great festival of Deepavali which is celebrated among the Hindus all across the world. This year, Deepavali will be celebrated on October 27.
In honour of Deepavali, our Homage Care Pro, Sasipriya Permal shares with us how she celebrates the Festival of Lights while balancing it with caregiving responsibilities.
Tell us more about yourself.
Raised in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur, I have always been passionate about helping others and using my time for the greater good; contributing my small part to make the world a better place— which led me to choose a noble career in healthcare. I pursued my education in nursing at International College of Health Sciences and Mahsa University. I have made many sacrifices and also put in a ton of dedication and effort to achieve my dreams to be where I am today.
As Deepavali is fast approaching, tell us more about how you usually make preparations for this occasion.
To me, nothing brings people together like festivals do. In my life, Deepavali provides an opportunity to bring together both close-knit friends, acquaintances and relatives all together under one roof. I truly enjoy celebrating this festival with a sense of unity with all of them. My family’s preparations for Deepavali usually start weeks before the festival date with a spring cleaning session. The entire house would be cleaned to get rid of dirt and dust because we believe that a spruced up home will give us blessings from Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and fortune. Only when the house is spick and span would we put up our brand new curtains and colourful decorations.
When one thinks about Deepavali, there’s no doubt that food comes to mind as well. We usually make our own traditional and authentic cakes and delicacies that mark the Deepavali celebration. I enjoy making murukkus and achi murukkus. Besides murukku, other types of ‘urandes’ or sweet cakes are also served. Some are extremely sweet and may even be “fattening”. It wouldn’t be a celebration if we don’t get to enjoy these items at least once a year!
We also buy new clothes, along with sweets and small gifts for friends and family.
What is it like on the day of Deepavali in your household?
On Deepavali, we usually start the day early and get dressed in our new brightly coloured outfits. Colours and “bling” are an integral part of contributing to the festive spirit! The Festival of Lights is incomplete without the blessings of elders and their words of affirmation. We would seek blessings from our elders and light the oil lamp in the prayer room.
Food reigns supreme on Deepavali. My family and friends look forward to the Deepavali spread every year where we get to enjoy home-cooked delicacies. Be it mutton, chicken, fish, prawns, you name it. There will also be traditional Indian fare such as thosai, idli, idiyapum (string hoppers), chutney and more. Food brings everyone together!
What are some of the Deepavali traditions that you and your family still practice?
For my family, keeping traditions alive is very much a part of our Deepavali experience. On Deepavali morning, we usually have an oil bath with castor oil which symbolises the cleansing of one’s body and soul. Hair is washed with shikakai paste (a paste of a traditional Indian leaf), a herbal rub, followed by prayers in our house. This tradition has been passed on from our elders and is still being practiced till today. It’s also part of our tradition to wear new clothes for Deepavali, which is believed to symbolise good luck and prosperity. It is a custom or a common practice to touch the feet of an elderly person, especially parents and grandparents on Deepavali to get their blessings.
What do you love the most about nursing?
It’s a career that helps me save lives, one that brings happiness to individuals and their families, and comfort to those in need and makes a positive impact. Upon reflection, I realise that many of those whom I cared for remember the effort I put in for the rest of their lives. Helping others often gives me a satisfaction as I believe that we should always treat people with kindness — just the way we like to be treated!
As a Homage Care Pro,what is your advice to all caregivers out there? Especially to those who sacrifice their time during the festive season to take care of their loved ones?
I would like to use this analogy of an oxygen mask. When faced with an impending danger or turbulence in an airplane and when the oxygen masks are deployed, the first rule is to put on your own oxygen mask before you assist anyone else. Only when we first help ourselves can we effectively help others. Caring for yourself is very important and one of the often forgotten things you can do as a caregiver.
My advice to all caregivers out there would be to always prioritise yourself and your family by managing your time well. Even though there might be a time where we have to sacrifice family traditions and gatherings due to work, we should always remember the reason behind where we are today — our family and our roots. When you are apart from family during festivals, remember that they are only a phone call away. Make a call or send a greeting to your family and friends to show that you care. I believe in showing my appreciation and care for my loved ones in every way I can.