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How Muslims in Malaysia celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri/Eid Al Fitr
Hari Raya Aidilfitri or Eid Ul Fitr
One of the main celebrations for Muslim in Malaysia is Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Raya Aidilfitri. The date of Hari Raya will change every year. The reason is because the Muslim’s calendar follows the lunar cycle so the actual date of the celebration will be confirm upon the new moon during the period. The celebration will fall on the 1st day of the new month on the Syawal or the 10th month of the Islamic calendar or the end of the fasting month of Ramadhan.
During the month of Ramadhan, fasting (cannot eat and drink) is compulsory to all the Muslim in Malaysia starting from sunrise to sunset (This year start from 21/7/12). Apart from drinking and eating, they also forbidden from having sexual and smoking. Only the people, who are sick, are excuse from fasting during the month but they must make up for each day that they went without puasa after they get well. The main purpose fasting is done by the Muslim is to remind them to be kind to those people that are unfortunate, poor and the needy.
During the month of Ramadhan, you can find many bazaars or food stalls all along the roadside in Malaysia especially to sell all the Malay cuisine breaking fast ( buka puasa). During this time, many restaurants and hotels offer Ramadan buffets.
It will be very enjoyable when Hari Raya Aidilfitri falls on the date close to another major celebration in Malaysia such as Deepavali or Chinese New Year.
There was a double celebration from 1996-1998 within Chinese and Muslim communities due to Chinese New Year and Hari Raya Puasa fell on the same week. We called it as “Gongsi Raya” it simply means “shared celebration”.
In the year 2004, Hari Raya Puasa fell after 3 days of Deepavali(11/November). In the year 2005, Deepavali and Hari Raya fell on 1/November and 3/November). We called it as “Deepa Raya”.
In Malaysia, the 1st and 2nd days of syawal are observed as public holidays only. Majority of Muslims will return to their hometowns (Balik Kampung) to visit their grandparents, parents and relatives.
The joy and fun of Hari Raya actually start a week before Hari Raya Aidilfitri. The house is cleaned, decorated, readied with new furnishing and lighting of homemade small kerosene oil lamps to welcome the angels and attract spirit of passed relatives to descend home during the last 4 days of the Ramadhan. Usually, the most suggested color during the season is green, gold or yellow. Cookies are also baked for the guests and relatives.
The shopping malls will hold big sales and promotions for shoppers to purchase raya goodies and clothes. You can hear Hari Raya songs, shopping malls and public areas are decorated.
On the 1st day of Hari Raya, all the children and youth will wear new traditional costumes. (Baju Melayu for Male and Baju Kurung or baju kebaya for Female) They will ask for forgiveness from their parents including the elders in the family, to salam (equivalent of handshake) then kiss the hands of the elders. (Sign of respect) After that, they will visit the graves of their loved ones and proceeds to the mosque for mandatory morning prayers.
Majority of families will have open houses, where many of delicious and tasty Malay traditional dishes and cakes are served to friends and relatives during this festival season. Open houses are part of the Malaysian culture that invites neighbours of other races, relatives and friends to enjoy the celebrations together. The elders will give green packet of money to kids during their visit.
During Hari Raya Adilfitri, the main traditional Malay dish is Rendang(A dry beef or chicken curry that is cooked together with spices, coconut milk and peanuts) and serves with Ketupat(rice cakes wrapped in coconut leaf).
There are many other favorite dishes and famous cuisines that can be found on this special day, like lontong(rice cake eaten with coconut gravy), serunding (desiccated coconut fried with chili), satay (grill meat on skewer) and lemang (glutinous rice in bamboo tubes).
At the same time, the most favourite beverages are Air Bandung (Rose syrup mixed with evaporated milk). The other goodies are “raya cookies”, like my favorite oatmeal cookies, kurma cookies, pineapple tarts, almond cookies and many other more.
This celebration lasts for 1 month but most of the people will concentrate on the first 3 days.
Selamat Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Raya Aidilfitri to all Muslim readers!!!