Deepavali is held to celebrate the death of evil at the hands of good, of darkness being vanquished by light. A time to celebrate, a time to ponder

Updated: Friday November 1, 2013 MYT 7:41:21 AM

A time to celebrate, a time to ponder


Deepavali is held to celebrate the death of evil at the hands of good, of darkness being vanquished by light. But every so often, death is cruel and there is little to celebrate.

IT’S Deepavali, a time to celebrate. It’s also All-Souls Day, when Christians (the Catholics, the Protestants don’t bother) gather to remember the dead. In a sense, Deepavali is also a time to remember the dead. It’s said to be the day when Lord Krishna slew the evil demon Narakasura. And it was the dying Narakasura who begged a boon from the God that all in the land should celebrate his death, so there would be no evil on earth again.He must have been hallucinating, that Narakasura fellow – I mean, that part about there being no evil on earth again.

It’s also said to be the day the great King Rama, an avatar of Lord Vishnu, returned to his kingdom after slaying another evil person, Ravana, the ruler of Sri Lanka.

Whatever the story you choose, Deepavali is a day to celebrate.

It always falls on a moonless night, so Hindus throughout the world light lamps in their houses and turn on all the lights to brighten up their homes.

We in The Star had a couple of speakers from the Hindu Sangam come over and give a talk on Deepavali.

They said Deepavali is a time for prayer, meditation and vegetarian food.

I have to apologise. The only part that I abide by is the prayer. I leave the meditation and vegetarian food to the other Hindu celebration, Thaipusam.

Deepavali, in my books, is a time for family, friends and good food. Of course, the prayer comes first.

This year, though, it’s a bit depressing. First, there’s the hike in sugar price.

Sugar, you see, has always been an integral part of Deepavali. Indians have sweetmeats. That’s a bit of a misnomer. It’s sweet. But it’s certainly not meat.

There is the laddujelebikesari, ghee balls and the North Indian gulab jamun.

The last, especially, can be described as diabetes served on a platter. But the Indians have sweet teeth. And they have sworn by these dishes for centuries, so it’s quite difficult to ask them to go easy on these dishes.

As a child, I remember seeing my mother labouring over a wok, making loads and loads of sugar syrup for all the delicacies she would churn out for Deepavali.

On Deepavali day, too, sugar played a big part.

We, the kids, would wait in line after our oil baths for mum to fill up trays withmurukku, ghee balls and other delicacies to be delivered to neighbours in the wee hours of the morning. It really was fun then, when every neighbour was part of the celebrations.

The neighbours would then return the trays with a mound of sugar, or an angpow. Or both.

We kids knew where the ang pows would come from, so we would try to wangle our way into delivering the trays to those houses.

The sugar didn’t do us any good, it would go into a pot to be used later.

The ang pow is what went into our pockets. And with those few dollars, we kids had loads of fun then.

Which is why my heart bleeds to think of those six children who now face a bleak, bleak Deepavali after a stupid drunken man – their father – stabbed their mum to death because he thought she was having an affair.

Did he for a moment stop to think of the consequences of his act? There’s always the courts, divorce and counselling.

He could even have raised his hands – not that I condone it – but anything would have been better than what he did.

Yes, he’s innocent until proven guilty but going by what his 15-year-old son says, the man had a history of drunkenness and had only recently been released from prison.

And he continued stabbing the screaming woman as she ran to a neighbour for help.

Now, his six children have lost their mother, and their father, too – he’s likely to be in prison for a long, long time, if he’s lucky enough to escape the gallows.

And it’s no fun having Deepavali without both your parents, especially if you are barely into your teens or less than 10.

For those six children, there can be no celebration in death.

I do hope someone can reach out and bring some light to the lives of those young children. I, too, would like to play a part.

> The writer, who can be reached at, wishes all Hindu readers a Happy Deepavali. Be joyful, be safe and be responsible. The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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