The festive season of Deepavali is one that is traditionally spent with the warmth and love of families. But for children who are either orphaned or given custody to other authorities, their Deepavali is often spent drowning in isolation, feelings of abandonment, and pain. Their lives are much different from those of children who are with their parents and families. The children who live at Selangor’s Tan Sri Dr. B. C. Sekhar’s Centre for Skills and Innovation express these emotions during this festival of lights.
15-year-old Dhinakaran, who does not have any known family members, has lived in this shelter since birth. In this festive season, where children are cherished and celebrated by the love and care of their families, Dhinakaran’s yearning for that bond has only increased.
Some people here have parents, and I will always wonder, why don’t I have parents? When others leave this place, I often wonder, why haven’t I left this place? I will think, why have my parents left me?
– Dhinakaran, 15
For 12-year-old Elisha Angel Loganathan, who has parents and siblings, yet due to their their distance from her during this time period, has awakened strong grief within her. She states that although she loves her father dearly, the young girl has never gotten to spend either her birthday or Deepavali with him. She very thoughtfully states that a Deepavali spent together with her family is the only true Deepavali she wants to experience.
I wish everyone in my family would wake up, my mother would give us an oil bath. We go to the temple and pray, and we will be happy in our home. Another dream of mine is that everyone sits together and has a meal together.
– Elisha Angel Loganathan, 12
Other children who have been given to the authorities due to their behaviours share that they finally understand the value and necessity of parental love.
I have never celebrated Deepavali with my parents; I have only celebrated it with my relatives, like my aunt. When I see other kids celebrating Deepavali with their parents, I will always wonder, why don’t I have that? When I see other kids being bathed and fed by their mothers, even though my aunt has done this for me, the absence of my parents makes me emotional.
You should always listen to your parents. It was because I didn’t listen to them that I am in this situation.
– Aishwini Murali, 17
Children need the warmth, values, and disciplined guidance that come from a loving and healthy household. By their own fault, their parents fault, or socioeconomic factors that are outside of their control, many children are often left to authorities and organisations to care for their well-being. Although these spaces provide education, food, and shelter for these children, the absence of strong, nurturing familial relationships, especially during festival periods, often leaves these children with an abandonment wound that mentally affects them deeply, even well into their adulthood.