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An extraordinary Eid celebration

This year’s celebration is going to be very different but definitely no less memorable

21 May 2020 / 13:41 H.

FOR Muslims around the globe, this year’s Eid is going to be unlike any other. Under the new normal, congregations are discouraged, get-togethers are discouraged, and families will have to celebrate one of the two main Muslim celebrations, apart. All done to break the chain of infection for Covid-19.

We spoke to three young people to find out how they will be handling the situation.

Pro wrestler Emman The Kid will be celebrating the Eid in Melbourne, Australia. – Courtesy of Emman Noorazam
Pro wrestler Emman The Kid will be celebrating the Eid in Melbourne, Australia. – Courtesy of Emman Noorazam

Emman Noorazam (@emman_thekid)

For Emman, this year’s Eid ul Fitr will be his first away from his family. The young professional wrestler, better known as Emman The Kid, is currently studying in Australia, over 4,700km away from his mother and friends here in Malaysia.

“Nonetheless I am grateful I have my girlfriend and a couple of my friends here in Melbourne with me. With the Australian government allowing five people to enter a home as of this moment, my girlfriend and I are planning to organise a small Raya get-together potluck.

“It is not much, but I feel that the memories that you create together are the most significant,” said Emman.

He recalls his days of celebrating the Eid in Malaysia where he would run errands with his mother, assembling the traditional Malaysian Eid dishes like lemang, rendang, and cookies.

“My mum would also make her delicious buttermilk sauce paired with chicken or crab.

“On the day of Raya, I’d always dread waking up in the morning for the Raya prayer, but since I’ve gotten older, those small memories of praying with my dad before he passed away are one of the few good memories I have of him,” said Emman.

Comic artist Jon Suraya’s years of celebrating Eid in Japan away from family has helped her cope with the MCO Eid restrictions. – Courtesy of Jon Suraya
Comic artist Jon Suraya’s years of celebrating Eid in Japan away from family has helped her cope with the MCO Eid restrictions. – Courtesy of Jon Suraya

Jon Suraya (@JonSuraya)

One of the most talented young comic artists in Malaysia, Jon Suraya, who is best known for her Jejon di Jepun series of travel comics, has been celebrating the Eid in Kyoto as a graduate student for the past four years. This was supposed to be her first time celebrating together with family in Malaysia after all those years apart.

“By right, I should be used to celebrating Eid without my family by my side. But quite the contrary. Having to spend my time without my family this coming Eid feels different and somewhat strange, as we are so near, yet so far.

“Everything in Kelantan, the place where I am currently residing, is familiar. The people, the food, the place. That makes it harder to not miss them. Compared to Kyoto, you do not feel like you are missing out as there is nothing that could remind you of Malaysia. We even have classes on the first day of Eid,” said Suraya.

While away, Suraya developed her own traditions with her family. “My favourite was to videocall my mum and have her virtually assist me with my Eid dish preparations.

“The tradition continues this year, it seems. And my rendang will probably taste better as I have access to items such as kerisik kelapa (toasted coconut shavings) which I could not get my hands on back in Kyoto,” said Suraya

She added that her four-year experience in Kyoto had somewhat prepared her for Eid during the pandemic. “While the experience of not having your loved ones by your side during this time can be quite challenging, I am most grateful.

“I am thankful for my friends in Kelantan, with whom I will celebrate this year.

“We will continue our tradition of having an Eid feast together (while practising social distancing, of course). I am thankful that my family is safe and healthy. I am also thankful for the technology that allows me to check up on everyone that I love.”

Artist Hanie Mohd will miss gathering with relatives in Miri to prepare traditional Raya dishes. – Courtesy of Hanie Mohd
Artist Hanie Mohd will miss gathering with relatives in Miri to prepare traditional Raya dishes. – Courtesy of Hanie Mohd

Hanie Mohd (@haniebunster)

Over in East Malaysia, Hanie Mohd, an artist – both with a marker and in the kitchen – expects a quieter Eid this year. Nevertheless, she already has plans to use technology to bridge the distance gap.

“My Eid has always been celebrated with my parents and whomever was in the household at the time. Over the years my siblings have gotten married and moved out, so Hari Raya celebrations have gotten increasingly smaller and quieter.

“Sometimes though, I would persuade my parents to fly over to Miri on the second or third day to spend Eid with my mothers’ siblings,” said Hanie.

To her, the celebration in Kuching has always been rather austere and moderate.

“But the celebration in Miri is where the fun begins. My aunt and uncle would hold great feasts where we would catch up with cousins over delicious, home-cooked meals.

“These meals would include the usual staples like rendang, curry, kelupis, traditional ethnic dishes cooked by my Melanau uncle, like linut and umai, as well as a large array of delicious cakes and cookies made by my aunt,” said Hanie.

She added that she has always looked forward to these occasions, not only for the food but the opportunity to bond with extended family.

However, because of the ongoing MCO, no one can travel inter-state, so sadly there won’t be any huge gathering to be had this year.

“Instead we’ll probably greet each other, and show off pictures of food made in each different household through the family Whatsapp group on Raya morning. It’s good that we still have the technology to keep in touch with extended family in ways that weren’t possible before.

“But nothing beats the face-to-face human interaction, or the joy of making connections, especially with people you only get to see once a year.”

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