#PEOPLE
Celebrating The Festival Of Lights

We speak to 3 families about how they’re celebrating Deepavali this year.

By Olivia Lim      4 November 2021

In these pandemic times, with restrictions on the number of people who can meet, a festive gathering for loved ones can sometimes turn into a big production. NSMan speaks to three families who share the slightly different – but no less significant – ways they are observing Deepavali this year, which falls on November 4.

Shweta Parida-DCosta, journalist and George DCosta, sales & marketing professional

1. What is the significance of the festival to you?

To me, Deepavali has always been about celebrating the festival with my family and friends. While wearing traditional outfits, feasting and gifting are a big part of the festive spirit, the biggest symbolism is, of course, celebrating the victory of good over evil and banishing any malicious thoughts by lighting candles and tealights. I’m not overtly religious but because we are a multi-religious family – my husband is Eurasian and follows Catholicism – I feel that it’s important that our children learn about my heritage as well.

2. How did your Deepavali celebrations go last year, in the midst of the pandemic?

Last year too, the celebrations were quite sombre due to the restriction in group size. We did have a belated celebration with some friends when the group size for social gatherings was increased to eight people. We invited family and friends over to our house in batches and although it was a much smaller celebration compared to the pre-Covid-19 years, it felt cosier. To express our gratitude amid such upheaval, some of our friends, together with us, pooled resources to prepare goodie bags of essential items and festive treats to share with a group of migrant workers who were working on an MRT project in our estate. I believe that all festivals, regardless of religion, teach us to celebrate happy occasions by sharing with those who may not be as fortunate as us.

“I wish everyone who is celebrating Deepavali to be healthy – both physically and mentally – and be more aware of how they can make a positive difference in others’ lives.”

3. How are you planning to celebrate this year, as we are still in the middle of this stabilisation phase?

This year, too, we will celebrate by observing little rituals such as lighting oil lamps and tealights, my children will make rangoli decorations with flowers outside the house, light up some sparklers in the evening, and we will indulge in some sinful festive treats such as murukku, sweets and other traditional dishes. I will buy something new for the house, although I’m increasingly cutting down on this unnecessary practice because it feels like such a waste now. We will buy small presents for our family members and our Filipina helper, Jocelyn, who has been with us for 10 years and looks forward to celebrating Deepavali with us every year. And like last year, this year, too, we plan to share festive goodie bags with some migrant workers, who can’t celebrate with their families.

4. What are your wishes and hopes for all those who are celebrating Deepavali?

This year, more than ever, I wish everyone who is celebrating Deepavali to be healthy – both physically and mentally – and be more aware of how they can make a positive difference in others’ lives if they are in a position to do so. Most importantly, I wish for everyone to not give up hope – there is more good than bad in our world.


Taru, entrepreneur and Charu Jain, financial services executive

1. What is the significance of Deepavali to you?

It represents a period of sharing and giving; to family, friends and those in need. It is the period in the year when we make it a point to connect with our loved ones, especially in the 20 days leading up to the festival, celebrate over a meal and most importantly, remind ourselves of our blessings.

2. How did your Deepavali celebrations go last year, in the midst of the pandemic?

We were lucky to have our children with us, so we celebrated amongst the four of us in Singapore and visited friends and family (within the constraints of the prevailing conditions) as is customary in the days leading up to Diwali.

“People should still connect with one another during the festive period; if not physically, then online.”

3. How are you planning to celebrate this year, as we are still in the middle of this stabilisation phase?

Very quiet and subdued celebrations as we are limited in our social interaction. Nonetheless, we plan to have Zoom calls with family and friends to wish them well. And we will make an effort to spread a little bit of cheer within the migrant worker community in Singapore, who have little release or celebration possible in the current environment by sponsoring a festive meal for them on the day of Diwali.

4. What are your wishes and hopes for all those who are celebrating Deepavali?

We wish that despite the limitations of being separated from loved ones, people should still connect with one another during the festive period; if not physically, then online. And to be grateful for whatever they have so that they find happiness within themselves.


Vinod Danani, business owner and Sonia Danani, head of HR

1. What is the significance of the festival to you?

For us, Deepavali (or Diwali) is a festival that we very much look forward to. It is always the biggest family get-together event for the year. Traditionally, our extended families of three generations would come together and make merry at one of our homes. After performing the Diwali puja (prayer) in our individual homes, we would always come together and enjoy great food and drinks together. There will also be song and dance (in true Hindi movie fashion), and for the younger folks, they eagerly look forward to receiving their token cash gifts in the form of ang pows” from their elders.   

2. How did your Deepavali celebrations go last year, in the midst of the pandemic?

Last year unfortunately was not quite the spectacular event. Due to the restrictions on the number of pax allowed to meet, my family was constrained to celebrate mainly at home among ourselves. Not the ideal situation but considering the circumstances, it was the right thing to do. But my kids did eventually make the journey to see their grandparents, uncles and aunties on separate occasions to get their blessings (and of course the cash gift tokens which they will never miss for any reason).   

“Our wish for this year is for all to stay positive and healthy; to be able to fight the good over the bad internally.”

3. How are you planning to celebrate this year, as we are still in the middle of this stabilisation phase?

This year will pretty much be the same as last. A quiet and simple affair with the immediate family, followed by separate visits to the homes of the extended families.

4. What are your wishes and hopes for all those who are celebrating Deepavali?

Our wish for this year is for all to stay positive and healthy; to be able to fight the good over the bad internally. Have positive thoughts and vibes to pass around. Only then can we hope to come out of this stronger.    

How are you celebrating Deepavali this year? Share your stories with us at magnsman@sph.com.sg!


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