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The Joy Of Raya

BUZZ explores the basics of Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations and provides some tips for those attending the festivities

23 May 2020 / 12:06 H.

WITH Malaysia’s many diverse races and cultures, it seems as though every month there is a festival or celebration, presenting an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and our neighbours. With Ramadan almost over, and Hari Raya Aidilfitri just days away, here are a few interesting pieces of knowledge that you can share with the people you know.

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is known as the fasting month for Muslims. This ninth month of the Islamic calendar is considered auspicious because it is believed that Prophet Muhammad received the first verses of the Quran during this month. During this period, Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual activities from dawn till dusk.

The Joy Of Raya

Why do Muslims fast during Ramadan?

Fasting is believed to teach self-control and empathy towards the poor, and evoke an appreciation for everything that God has bestowed upon us. People are reminded to live moderately and to practise abstinence.

What is Hari Raya Aidilfitri and what happens during the celebration?

Right after Ramadan, Muslims will celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri (also known as Hari Raya Puasa), to mark the end of the fasting month.

On the day itself, Muslims will wake up early and dress their best. They will then visit the mosque and thank God for the blessings given. After prayers, families will gather at home or visit other family members, and the younger generation will seek forgiveness from their elders.

One uniquely Malaysian Hari Raya tradition is the handing out of green packets of money (known as duit raya) to those who are not married or working yet. The most awaited moment is when everyone gathers to share a meal together. Food such as ayam masak merah, beef rendang, ketupat, lontong and kuih are some of the favourite dishes that should not be missed!

The Joy Of Raya

What are the other traditions still practiced today?

There used to be huge open houses where people from around the village will be invited over. Over the years, parties have been kept small, and gatherings are limited to family members and friends.

Just like most other celebrations in Malaysia, playing with fireworks or firecrackers in the evenings is part of the fun. Lighting oil lamps or pelita around the perimeter of the house is an old tradition, but sometimes it’s still put up as part of festive decorations.

If you’re invited to an open house, do you need to bring gifts?

Gifts aren’t usually given during Hari Raya Aidilfitri. The host won’t mind if you come empty-handed but if you feel like you must bring something, a thoughtful greeting card or some festive cookies is sufficient.

The Joy Of Raya

Do I need to dress up?

It’s fine to dress in modern and casual clothes as long as it’s modest. However, wearing a traditional outfit for the celebration is highly encouraged. For men, they may wear a baju Melayu with a kain samping (a cloth wrapped over the trousers) and a songkok. For women, they may wear either a stylish baju kurung or an elegant baju kebaya. There are no taboos regarding colours of clothes, so if you feel like wearing a chic black outfit, you can!

What are the common greetings?

You can either wish them “Selamat Hari Raya” or “Eid Mubarak”. Sometimes, people might also say “Maaf Zahir dan Batin” in order to seek forgiveness.

theSun and the BUZZ Team would like to wish our dear readers, friends and fellow Malaysians a blessed Raya. Thank you for the continued support!

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