A Festival of Lights: Diwali in Kuala Lumpur

October 26, 2012 by Vignesh Siva

The Hindu festival of Diwali is one of the major celebrations in multi-cultural Malaysia. This year, the festival falls on November 13, 2012, a public holiday during which all Hindu communities celebrate the "Festival of Lights" as it’s commonly called because it commemorates the return of Lord Rama, and the defeat of demon-king Ravana.

In the nation’s capital, much of the revelry can be seen taking place in temples and homes, especially in the Brickfields neighbourhood, also known as "Little India". Besides that, there would also be a series of "Open Houses" where well-known public figures would hold grand feasts at their houses and open their homes to the public - regardless of race, religion or nationality.

Here, we’ll take a look at some of the best places to capture the mood of Diwali in the Klang Valley.


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The Brickfields neighbourhood has long been a centre for Malaysian Indian community ever since the 19th century when Indian migrant workers settled in Kuala Lumpur. South Indian culture is particularly evident in the many shops, restaurants, and temples in the area, leading it to be dubbed "Little India".

The neighbourhood bursts with life, colour, and excitement during Diwali and the weeks preceding it as celebrants shop for new sarees, buy traditional food like muruku, and offerings such as garlands of jasmine.

At the centre of celebrations is the Sri Kandaswamy Kovil temple, a century-old temple on Scott Lane (Lorong Scott) that is abuzz with activity as Hindus come to pay homage. Another temple to witness the celebrations is at Sri Mahamariamman temple in Chinatown. Photographers will have a field day with the gorgeous scenes, but be prepared to mix in with the crowd!

Temple of Fine Arts

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The Temple of Fine Arts in Brickfields was established by Swami Shantanand Saraswathi in 1981 to be a sanctuary for the arts. Among other things, the impressive five-storey building on Jalan Berhala houses dance studios, music rooms, and a 500-seat performance hall in which visitors can watch traditional Indian dance performances like the Bharatanatyam and Odissi, as well as recitals for both Hindustani and Karnatic music.

Though the temple is closed during the Diwali period, the temple does hold many events in the weeks leading up to Diwali, its schedule can be seen at its website here.

Batu Caves

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The Batu Caves temple in the Gombak district of Kuala Lumpur is one of the most revered Hindu temples in Malaysia, and plays host to thousands during the Diwali celebrations.

Built into a limestone hill, the temple is dedicated to Lord Murugan, and it is here that the biggest celebration of Diwali in Kuala Lumpur can be seen - in 2012, more than 10,000 people gathered here to celebrate in an atmosphere filled with music, incense, and spices.

Tips on celebrating Diwali

Have plenty of water

When you’re in the middle of a crowd, things can get hot and sweaty. Drinking water may not be easily available, so make sure you carry enough bottled water with you.

Spicy food

South Indian food is often made with a generous use of chilli, so if you’re one with a mild tolerance for spicy food, be careful!

Be prepared for a long day of walking

Roads in and around Brickfields and Batu Caves are closed off during Diwali, so it’s best you use the LRT (stop at KL Sentral) to get to Brickfields, while you should be prepared for a long walk to Batu Caves from the nearest bus-stop.