Kuala Lumpur, Oct 27 (IANS) Malaysian Prime Minister Abdulah Ahmed Badawi and his cabinet ministers Monday joined the nationwide celebrations of the Indian festival of Diwali, reinforcing the country's multi-racial traditions.
Heralded by good weather in most parts of the country and coming soon after Hari Raya, the Eid celebrations of the majority Malay people, Diwali celebrations numbed the worries of the economic crisis the prosperous Southeast Asian nation has been facing.
The release on bail of 10 activists of the banned Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) on the eve of the festival also helped build up the mood as Badawi hailed the role of the 2.6 million Indian community.
The multi-ethnic tradition is re-emphasised by hosting an open house on major occasions pertaining to each community.
Badawi, his cabinet ministers and Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, who would become the prime minister in March next year, joined the open house hosted by the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), a constituent of the ruling coalition Barisan National that traditionally speaks for the Indian community.
The Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry also took the opportunity to hold an open house, official news agency Bernama reported.
Malacca MIC chairman R. Ragavan hosted an open house at his residence, while State Transport, Information and Consumer Committee chairman R. Perumal held a separate open house at his home.
In Kota Kinabalu, celebrations were attended by Chief Minister Musa Aman, state cabinet members as well as political and community leaders.
In Alor Star, Diwali was celebrated modestly as seven districts in the state were still flooded.
However, this did not stop the people from attending open houses hosted by state leaders including Kedah MIC chairman V. Saravanan, state MIC deputy chairman S. Ganesan and executive councillor V. Arumugam.
Kedah Chief Minister Azizan Abdul Razak was among the guests at Arumugam's open house, The New Straits Times said.