Celebrating Hari Raya Puasa
In Malaysia it is called Hari Raya Puasa but elsewhere its called Idul Fitri, Eid, Hari Lebaran or Hari Raya Aidil Fitri. Hari Raya Puasa is a festival to mark the end of the Fasting Month of Ramadan. Its a time when Muslims gather at their hometown tp celebrat together. The exodus normally starts a few days before Hari Raya Puasa when the school ends. I was stuck in one of this mass migration some years back. It took us almost 8 hours from my wife’s hometown of Kuala Kangsar to Shah Alam. A journey that normally takes a maximum of 5 hours. The celebration normally last about a month but the main concentration is during the first three days.
On the First Day of Hari Raya
Hari Raya normally starts with a visit to the Mosque dressed in their finest for Hari Raya Prayers. Then its a visit to the graves of deceased relatives to offer prayers and pay their respects. After that its time to ask for forgiveness from family members begining with the oldest family member who is usually seated down. Here is when the little ones receive their much anticipated duit raya in little green envelopes. Then a tradition that is significant in most ethnic festivals in Malaysia is the “Rumah Terbuka” is followed. Rumah terbuka is the tradition of holding open houses where relatives and friends drop by for some Raya goodies and also to catch the lastest updates on each other.
Hari Raya Food
At this open houses you will usually find specialties such as beef rendang (a spicy beef dry), ketupat (rice cake wrapped in coconut leaf), lemang (rice cooked in bamboo) and lontong (rice cakes). Along with these would be an assortment cookies and cakes. Some have added mee cury or in my wife’s hometown laksa. A point to note if you are going to places that has a large muslim population, most food outlets will be closed. Especially in the East Coast of Malaysia. Some states offer Open houses on a certain day for tourist to sample the Hari Raya Goodies. Just look out for these State open houses that is usualy held a few days after the First Day of Hari Raya.
Traveling during Hari Raya Puasa
Due to the mass exodus of people to their hometown major highways are normally jamed up especially when the school holiday begins. Train, bus and even airline tickets are usually snapped up a month ahead. Forget about taking a cab cause it normally double during these days. So if you want to travel do it a few days before or after. If you want some peace and quiet head over to Kuala Lumpur, cause the capital city will be very quiet as most city folks will exit the city to their hometown. You will find only the foreign workforce in droves at major landmarks there.