Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Deepavali 2005, Nothing and God's Sovereignty

Defying expectations of quiet streets during Deepavali, the famous Little India throngs were out in full force, boosted by foreign workers with no work to go to nor houses to celebrate in and curious locals and tourists decked up in factory-churned saris, fanning themselves with henna-printed hands.

Amped up knock-off bhangra and Bollywood beats competed with deafening pre-recorded messages blaring from Ah Beng-fronted discount stores pushing mountains of rumpled clothes:"Ahhhrrrr Harpee Deepavari! Ahhhhrrr don't buy wasted! Ahhhhrrrr lelong lelong!"
Despite not being Robbie Williams, I provided much entertainment with the taking of this photo of the open area along Desker Road. In the 5 seconds it took to hold the camera aloft and press down on the button, more than 20 individuals managed to congregate behind me in their white shirts and colourful sarongs, clutching heavy loads of fresh veggies and frozen meat, silent and staring wide-eyed at the space in the air where the LCD screen had been.

Only 7 seconds to go...time is running out for these chaps:

and this boy:

and the strict religious men with white beards who were looking disapprovingly into the Prince of Wales backpackers...and the backpackers themselves:

and the little knots of friends seated on whatever patches of grass they could find:

Someone asked me what I thought of Deepavali.

Well, both (1) nothing; and (2) God's sovereignty.

Nothing...because idols are nothing and the celebration of idols can mean nothing for me personally (1 Corinthians 8 and 10 reasoning).

God's sovereignty because the first Deepavali I shared with a group of ARPC people was when I was invited to a friend's for the holiday. I arrived to find the place deafeningly noisy with people who didn't talk to me. When one finally did, she immediately asked where I'd studied and whether I was from the Gifted Education Programme. Then she turned off abruptly and talked to someone else. I was wondering what to do with all these people when my friend announced that they were going to have bible study. I felt conned. But because it would be impolite to leave at that point in time, I stayed. The leader was a pale short nervous boy with a high squeaky voice and looked like he'd just come out of junior college. He asked me questions from the Bible I couldn't answer. He was condescending. And I wasn't very fond of ARPC or Christians at all.

The next Deepavali, I found myself at this same friend's place again. I had just led our PTC study group in a day-long session. Exhausted, we sat staring at the oven, waiting for dinner to roast.

"Hey...it's Deepavali again!" I suddenly recalled.

"Yup. I was just thinking the same thing." he smiled, and our eyes watered.

What a difference a year makes. And our great God is so very unimaginably sovereign.

Related post: Little India


At November 07, 2005 11:42 pm , Blogger paddychicken said...

People can tell you are a programme kid just by looking at you. How nerdy can you get ??


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