Far from home, the lights still shine for Deepavali

Govindaraj is just one of thousands of migrant workers from India who will be celebrating Deepavali far from friends and family.

Govindaraj works as a cook at a humble stall in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.A migrant worker from India, he is a long way from home, a fact felt keenly this Deepavali season. But he has friends with him here who, like him, are far from home and gather together to celebrate the religious festival.When he returns home, Govindaraj lights three ghee lamps for prayers.He shares the unit with several others, but the altar at which he prays every day is in his room. Govindaraj watches a Tamil movie with his housemate, Marimuthu, who also hails from India.Govindaraj and Marimuthu prepare Deepavali goodies in their small kitchen.
The best Deepavali decorations are saved for the front door, which will also be festooned with lights to symbolise the celebration.Their small unit is in a shop lot directly above Govindaraj's stall. Govindaraj looks at a picture of his mother in India – the next best thing to getting her blessings in person.Govindraj stretches out on the floor at the end of a long day and enjoys the warm greetings from his friends and family back home.He tries to keep connected to his friends and family in India.