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Deepavali holidaymakers leave popular Malaysian cities full of rubbish




Stock photo via IYOR 2018

Popular tourist spots in Malaysia are resembling rubbish dumping grounds as the recent 4 day Deepavali holiday, ended in mounds of litter. The Deepavali, or Diwali, holiday last week saw the Penang Island City council cleaning up an estimated 5,256 tonnes of garbage. Xavier Sebastian, the city council urban services department director, told the Straits Times that the increase was due to the many tourists that swarmed the island during the holiday.

“We noticed that there was a garbage overflow at popular spots in Karpal Singh Drive, Gurney Drive, Teluk Bayu, the Esplanade, Batu Feringghi, near Queensbay Mall, and under the Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Bridge, a popular picnic spot.”

Sebastian told the Straits Times that most of the garbage left behind was that of plastic food containers, newspapers, and water bottles.

The city council extended its working hours and used “pickers” 3 times a day and at night during the public holiday. But, he says in addition to holding education and awareness programmes surrounding the impact of such rubbish on the environment, the government won’t hesitate to issue compound notices to those caught littering.

Such education programmes include using social media to make people aware of littering, with the hope that people would put rubbish in the proper bins. Now, he says despite the increase in rubbish over the recent holiday, he hopes Christmas and New Year’s festivities will be more free from pollution.

Deepavali, or Diwali, is an annual holiday that is celebrated in Malaysia and other countries that feature ethnic Indian populations. Known as the Festival of Lights, it is one of the major holidays celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists, notably Newar Buddhists. The festival usually lasts 5 days and is celebrated during the Hindu lunisolar month Kartika, which is between mid-October and mid-November. As it is one of the most popular Hindu festivals, Deepavali symbolises the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. ” The festival is also widely associated with Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity.

In Thailand, the celebration of the day King Rama returned to his kingdom of Ayutthaya with his wife and brother after defeating King Ravana in Lanka and serving 14 years in exile.

This year, it was celebrated on November 4, with many Indians in Malaysia saying they felt a sense of normalcy after the country went through many intermittent lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic. More than 2 million Malaysian Indians took part in the Festival of Lights, which was the first major celebration since domestic travel restrictions were lifted. Relatives were now able to return home and celebrate the holiday with their loved ones, while being able to shop and eat to their content.

SOURCE: Straits Times


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Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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