A few days ago I noticed a new car service centre had opened fer business in me Taman. Since there's no other workshop within such close proximity I decided to get the contact number & quiz the foreman on his abilities.
(Conversation in Cantonese)
Anfield Devotee: Morning boss, are you able to service a mazda mx5?
Ah Keong (boss): No problem one la.
AD: Sure ah, you can do? This car already very old, y'know.
Boss: No problem one la, just bring your car & we will do nice nice one la.
AD: What days are you closed?
Boss: Every day open one la! Even Sunday we work!
AD: (jokingly) So this Thursday you also working ah?
Boss: Why not? Why shouldn't we open?
AD: Er . . . its a public holiday.
Boss: (puzzled look) . . . What holiday? . . . Oh, you mean Indian people celebrating Thaipusam this Thurs right? Don't worry, we are open.
AD: (jaw gaping & shocked expression) No, its Deepavali.
Boss: Haiya, Thaipusam, Deepavali . . . isn't it the same thing.
I left wondering just how ignorant we are of each others traditions and cultures. We keep harping on 'Bangsa Malaysia' but yet blissfully unawares of the very basic traditions of each race. For example, me (former) Muslim staff at me old Bistro was puzzled as to why I did not consume beef when me other Indian friends did so. When I explained that they were Christians & not Hindus, they were still none the wiser. . .
This goes to show that our so-called "melting pot of cultures" is (like so many other things in this country) mere lip service. To be unaware of the significance of Deepavali is one thing but to mistake it fer another festival & assume they are all the same is another. Even most people of other races regard it as simply the "Indian New Year" which is a fallacy; that falls on another date & is not a public holiday.
Same goes fer all of us, I guess. How many of you can tell me the meaning of the Chinese Lantern festival or the meaning of certain Muslim holidays. We still haven't gotten to know each other well enough fer us to really be harping about a 'Bangsa Malaysia' & if the Chinese foreman above is any indication, we are a looooong way off (though I admire him fer his hardwork ethic).
On that note, I hope all Malaysians will make the effort to join their in the festivities of the various races - wholeheartedly & full of goodwill. Please let me take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Deepavali & a happy holidays.
PS: The correct term is Deepavali but the festival is also known as Diwali in various other parts of India as the word got shortened & corrupted in its travels.