SUNGAI SIPUT, Nov 11 — The usually quiet town of Sungai Siput played host to a festival of culture and colour during this year’s national-level Deepavali open house today.
Despite the pouring rain, thousands of people assembled at the Infoternak field here as early as 10.30am to join in the festivities, which were organised by the Tourism Ministry.
The crowd consisted of people from all races, backgrounds, and age groups who braved the adverse weather conditions to celebrate the Festival of Lights together.
On hand to officiate the event was Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, whose arrival was greeted by a thrilling Indian drum performance.
Also present were Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, Health Minister and MIC President Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam, and Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir.
They were joined by local community leaders, state and federal dignitaries, as well as excited local residents who received a taste of Indian culture.
Among them was 56-year-old Orang Asli Rela volunteer Along bin Along who said the event was an eye opening experience.
“Before this, I had only seen some of these cultural shows on television but today I got to see it first hand,” he said.
“The songs and dances are fascinating. And of course, I had a blast enjoying the Indian cuisine.”
Meanwhile long time Sungai Siput resident V. Prem Kumar said he was happy to see such a large-scale event held in his hometown.
“It’s quite special to see a national level open house here,” he said.
“I came here to see our leaders in the flesh, as you can’t meet these people every day.”
Before the guests of honour arrived, the crowds milled about the dozens of exhibition tents set up by government agencies and non-governmental agencies.
They were seen snapping photographs, sampling the cuisine on offer, and taking in the sights and sounds of the celebration.
Those who turned up tucked into the sumptuous feast on offer which featured classic Malaysian dishes.
At the forefront of the spread were Indian favourites like thosai, putu mayam, briyani, idli, and vadai.
The crowd was also treated to star studded musical performances by Datuk M. Nasir, Jaclyn Victor, Vivek Ji and cultural dance shows.
In his speech, Dr Subramaniam highlighted the importance of the ‘open house celebration’ concept, which has become part of Malaysian culture.
“Open house celebrations have become a yearly affair, regardless of whether we are celebrating Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, Christmas or Hari Gawai,” he told the crowd.
“Celebrations like this are the way to bring our uniquely diverse people together, despite the fact that they come from different lifestyles and religious beliefs.
“This is the stage for us to strengthen our unity, which is one of the foundations for the country’s development.”