Hari Raya in Malaysia
Knowing the Facts: Hari Raya in Malaysia
Hari Raya Aidilfitri is defined categorically as, “Festival of Breaking the Fast.” Muslims celebrate this event as a religious holiday. The literal translation of Hari Raya is “Celebration Day.” It refers to the day that indicates the termination of Ramadan which is the Muslim Holy Month of strict dawn-to-sunset abstinence or fasting. Hari Raya Aidilfitri is said to be of the two most important commemoration in the Islam Religion. The other is Hari Raya Haji.
In short Hari Raya Haji is commemoration of Nabi Ibrahim willingness to sacrifice his young first-born and only son in obedience of a command from Allah
Hari Raya in Malaysia is a grand public holiday. Muslims as well as some non-Muslims make it a point to return to their respective families for several days. It is a period of asking forgiveness. This is an opportunity for relatives and friends to implore pardon from each other for any wrongdoing. It is also a time to visit burial tombs of ancestors, worship at the Mosque and have time with loved ones.
On the very first day of Hari Raya, kids don traditional costumes and ask forgiveness of their parents. They also kiss the hands of the elderly folks. It is more pleasurable if the Hari Raya Aidilfitri falls near the date when Malaysians are celebrating Chinese New Year. This is called a double celebration or “Gongsi Raya” in the local dialect. Hari Raya Aidilfitri means a feast of delicacies and special Malaysian food such as curry dishes, Satay chicken, Rendang (spicy meat dish), Ketupat dumplings, and Lemang (traditional rice food). Youngsters are given money as tokens by their parents and elder guardians.
During the Hari Raya in Malaysia, shopping malls all over the country are adorned with lanterns made of paper. Bazaars are open in the urban hub as well as highly populated residential sectors. Shoppers can get the best bargains on Malaysian garments or costumes, delicious food and other items. However, the primary attraction is sumptuous Malaysian food which includes pineapple pies, desserts with sugar fillings and other local treats. Tourists can visit Malaysian Mosques. The best place to start your tour is Kuala Lumpur (the capital city) where Muslims spend some time in praying. Locals dress in colorful clothes with a particular theme to showcase their solidarity as a people.
Another excellent place to observe Hari Raya in Malaysia is in Kelantan. This is also where you can relish delicious food prepared by native residents. However, travel is quite difficult since the major thoroughfares are overcrowded. Thus, it is advisable to plan your vacation and come up with an itinerary in advance.
Schools are closed for 1 week or more, so families can go to their respective hometowns one week before the actual celebration. There are many good hotels in Kuala Lumpur. You can also opt for a home stay program which allows visitors to experience Malaysian hospitality and how it is to live with a local Muslim household. You need not worry to run out of places to buy food and drinks since majority of restaurants stay open the whole day. Enjoy the festival and get a glimpse of the Malaysian culture and festivities.
To all our Muslims friends, Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf Zahir batin.