On our second last day in Penang, my partner and I decided to walk around Penang’s Little India, which is a must for anyone visiting Penang. We like the sight and sound, and smell of Little India filled with aromatic spices and incenses, “Bollywood” music blastering through oversize giant speakers outside the CD/DVD shops and street stalls selling Indian sugary snacks. The streets were very festive when we were there. “Deepavali”, also known as Festival of Lights festival, is celebrated by Hindus. This year, it falls on the 17th October 2009. In Malaysia, it is a public holiday and celebrated by all cultures and races alike. Unfortunately, we are not around to celebrate and enjoy this beautiful and colourful multi-cultural festival of Malaysia. We are leaving for Laos the next day.
The word “Deepavali” derives from the combination of the words ‘Dipa’ and ‘Gavali’, the former meaning ‘light’ and the latter meaning ‘a row’. Thus symbolising the rows of lights that can be seen at the houses of Hindu celebrants. As light dispels darkness, this festival symbolises the victory of good over evil.
At the dawn of Deepavali, Hindus perform the ritual oil bath which signifies a cleansing of the body and soul. Following this symbolic rite in purification which marks a new beginning, devotees visit the temple where shrines of Hindu deities are encircled with flower garlands.
The entrances of Hindu homes are decorated with the ‘kolam’, an intricate floral design on the ground which signifies religious believes. This religious connotation, revolves around the Goddess of Wealth, the deity Lakshimi. Many believe that the Goddess Lakshimi would only enter a home with a ‘kolam’ at the entrance.
The colourful flower garlands
The colourful buckets of lentils
Fennel, Cumin and Almonds
Indian snacks on Deepavali
Street vendor selling fresh coconut drink
While we were in Little India, my partner could not resist himself with an Indian barber haircut. On every visit, he will seek out this barber shop for his haircut, head and shoulder massage, all for MYR$10! Watch the short video below for a great laugh! 🙂
A couple of months before we left Hobart on this trip, our friends in the Huon area told us they will be visiting Penang about the same time. We caught up with them for a dinner before we left Penang. We took them to a seafood place in Gurney Drive, about 10 minutes walking distance from our hotel. The place is called Bali Hai Seafood Market. My partner loves this place because of the fresh seafood. The dishes are cooked towards a Penang-Thai style.
Australian Snow Crabs
Our friends trusted us to order the dishes; my partner recommended the deep fried red snapper cooked in 3 flavours of sour, spicy and sweet (our friends enjoyed this dish so much that we ordered a second fish!), a crispy garlic tiger prawns (about 2 kg), kung pao chicken, deep fried tofu with sweet “heh bee” (small dried shrimps) sauce, silky steamed tofu with crispy ginger, shallots soy sauce, four types mushroom and bok choy garlic stir fry. There were 6 of us. Total cost MYR$249.
The next day, which was our last day in Penang, we took it easy. Relaxed in the hotel, went for a movie, Surrogate, which cost only MYR$11 for the Premier Class! Dinner we had at my mum’s place before heading to the airport.
The 5 days in Penang were gone so quickly. As usual, we had a great time in Penang. The weather was good, it rained but only for a short 15 minutes, then cleared up with a nice sunny warm day.
“Selamat Tinggal Pulau Pinang” (or, Good bye Penang). See you again next time!
And, “Sabai Dee” (hello) Laos on our next leg of journey.