Glittering outfits in vivid shades are spread out in every corner of the showroom, the phone hasn’t stopped ringing all morning and masked avid shoppers are arriving at regular intervals.
And everyone has just one thing on their mind: that perfect Diwali outfit they can wear this weekend to celebrate the festival of lights.
“Diwali is like inviting light into your house. It’s like our new year. It’s like a new beginning,” says Ms Rajan, who was born in Sri Lanka, raised in India and now lives in the northwest Sydney suburb of Carlingford.
“In our culture, we wear red [at] weddings and on any other happy occasions. Red brings out the brightness in a person. It’s very welcoming. That’s why I have chosen this sari.”
Also in the shop is Indian-born Australian Neela Bhole, who’s rummaging through intricately embroidered outfits for tiny tots.
“I’m looking for a nice cute little dress for my granddaughter. It’s her first Diwali, so I’m really excited about it,” she says. “I am looking forward to putting her in that dress and taking some family pictures. I just hope she keeps it on for a while.”
Celebrated over five nights, Diwali – also known as Deepavali – is one of the most important festivals in the Indian subcontinent.
According to Ramayana – one of the most significant mythological epics of ancient India – Diwali marks the triumph of good over evil: the return of Lord Rama to his kingdom Ayodhya after 14 years in exile during which he defeated Ravana, widely considered a symbol of evil.
Many communities all over the world – such as Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists – celebrate Diwali with gusto.
“So much nostalgia kicks in when I think about celebrating Diwali as a child,” says Fiji-Indian Salvin Kumar, who – along with his husband Scott McBain – is looking forward to having a party of 20 people at his home in Sydney’s Enmore.
“So many snippets of memories come to mind,” Mr Kumar says.
“My mum used to say, ‘Whatever you do on Diwali, you do it for the rest of the year.’ So we would get up really early – like 5.30 in the morning. We would take out our school notebooks and study for an hour. We would listen to Diwali songs on [the] radio. Then, in the evening we would dress up in brand-new clothes, worship Goddess Laxmi, welcome guests into our home, play with sparklers and decorate the whole place with diyas [tealights].”
According to legend, Lord Rama arrived in Ayodhya at night, so the whole city lit thousands of diyas to welcome him. To this day, communities all over the world light diyas on Diwali to celebrate that mythological moment.
A symbol of light
But this year the custom feels all the more special for migrant families, who haven’t seen their loved ones for a long period of time.
“It feels like a symbol of light at the end of a very dark and challenging two-year period,” Ms Rajan says.
“I haven’t seen my daughter, who works in the Northern Territory, for so long. In fact, I haven’t seen my family in India for two years, which is quite a long time. Generally, we make a trip once a year. So I am very excited about the borders opening and travelling back to India to see them.”
Travelling overseas is also on Mr Kumar’s mind, but at the moment he’s most excited about making a rangoli – art created on the floor using materials like powdered colour, rice and flower petals – with his husband.
“Doing the rangoli is fun for both Scott and I. He helps with the design and making sure the lines aren’t out of shape,” Mr Kumar says.
“We sit down on the floor with coloured rice as that’s what my family have always used.”