This light is for ev­ery­one

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Family - By ED­MUND EVAN­SON star2@thes­tar.com.my

IT WAS not dif­fi­cult at all for Ade­line Cheng to adapt when she mar­ried her hus­band Manoha­ran Muthusamy. She has al­ways been fas­ci­nated by In­dian cul­ture; from favour­ing In­dian food to watch­ing Tamil movies as a child.

Cheng and Manoha­ran have three daugh­ters, and Deepavali has al­ways been cel­e­brated with much mer­ri­ment in their home for the past 20 years.

“I find Deepavali fas­ci­nat­ing. The Fes­ti­val of Lights should be cel­e­brated by ev­ery­one. I be­lieve this light is for ev­ery­one, not just In­di­ans,” says the 48-year-old dance in­struc­tor who wears a pottu ev­ery day. Cheng will be mak­ing tho­sai for Deepavali, a fam­ily tra­di­tion her chil­dren love.

“Mum makes tho­sai dur­ing festive sea­sons, and she would pre­pare it a day ear­lier so the batter can rise. We also love her chicken curry, rasam and sodhi, “says Cheng’s youngest daugh­ter, 19-year-old Kash­meraa.

“We usu­ally eat more of In­dian food, as our fa­ther re­ally likes spicy food, and mum is more than happy to go along with this, as we are too,” says daugh­ter Tanusya, 22, a flight at­ten­dant. “Even when my mum cooks Chi­nese food, she puts some spice into it.”

Cheng learnt to cook In­dian food from her mother-in-law.

“When our mum first got mar­ried, she ac­tu­ally didn’t know how to cook In­dian food. So when­ever my pa­ter­nal grand­mother, who is based in Ni­lai, came for Deepavali, she’d take over the kitchen and mum would be­come the ar­dent ob­server. She picked every­thing up from my grand­mother. Mum has been cook­ing In­dian food for 20 years,” adds Chong’s el­dest daugh­ter, Pr­is­han­thini, 24, a cus­tomer en­gage­ment ex­ec­u­tive.

“My fam­ily and friends love and en­joy my In­dian cook­ing. My Chi­nese rel­a­tives also look for­ward to the fes­ti­val ev­ery year be­cause it of­fers them some­thing quite dif­fer­ent,” says Cheng.

Apart from the festive cook­ing, Cheng also en­joys dec­o­rat­ing her house, in­clud­ing putting flow­ers and lamps on “my beau­ti­ful al­tar”.

“Deepavali is a very colour­ful cel­e­bra­tion that makes us feel bright and vi­brant. It is a time when we can ex­pe­ri­ence and share in the love, joy and peace that are part and par­cel of the fes­tiv­i­ties,” says Cheng. Kash­meraa adds, “Dur­ing festive sea­sons such as Deepavali and Chi­nese New Year, we try to cel­e­brate with both sides of the fam­ily. The whole fam­ily would go to the re­spec­tive tem­ples for both re­li­gious and cul­tural events.”

The fam­ily also cel­e­brates Christ­mas, as one of Manoha­ran’s cousins is a Chris­tian.

“We never felt out of place cel­e­brat­ing all the dif­fer­ent fes­tiv­i­ties. We feel like we truly be­long,” says Manoha­ran.

The three girls say their fond­est mem­ory of Deepavali is the oil bath rit­ual. “When we were kids, our fa­ther would carry us, then prop us up on the kitchen ta­ble and rub the oil onto our heads. That ex­pe­ri­ence has never left us,” says Pr­is­han­thini, laugh­ing. “We would also have these huge open-houses,” adds Tanusya.

This mul­tira­cial fam­ily ob­serves Deepavali ri­tu­als, in­clud­ing of­fer­ing prayers at their fam­ily al­tar.

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