With the restrictions imposed on us this year, Hari Raya was just not the same. This has left many Malaysians longing for nostalgia. Here, we relive the good old days as our readers share their favourite Raya moments.
Every Malaysian knows that the biggest celebration in the country is Hari Raya Aidilfitri. And this by a large margin too! This local version of Eid al-Fitr is a festival like no other. There’s the special outfits, food, month-long open houses, visiting friends and families, nostalgic Raya tunes, duit Raya, fireworks, and so much more.
However, as is the case with most other things, the new normal changed everything. Just like last year, Hari Raya in 2021 was celebrated in the midst of a nationwide Movement Control Order (MCO). With tight restrictions imposed throughout the land, things were from being the same.
This has caused many Malaysians to reminisce about the good old days. We got our readers to share their favourite Hari Raya moments with us. So, let us take you back down nostalgia lane and relive Hari Raya at its best.
1. A kampung atmosphere
For Suaibatul Islamiyyah, picking a single favourite Raya moment was hard as she has many precious memories of the celebration. However, the one that stands out the most is spending time in her parent’s hometown in Kedah. She would look forward to it all year long as it was the only time they went back there!
“We lived in the city so going to places where sounds of cows, goats, and the sound of wind blowing through paddy fields waking us up every morning was something different and exciting,” she shares.
I used to watch my grandma make her own kuih Raya and cake. One cherished memory is of her fresh kuih Raya, which was made on a stone stove. My cousins and I would eat it while it was hot out of the oven. Our aunt would yell and warn us that it would upset our stomach if we ate kuih Raya that hot. She was right, but we couldn’t stop ourselves as it was so delicious!
2. The secret of ketupat daun palas
For Mashitah Hamid, she always looks forward to the eve of Hari Raya. Usually, this is the time where the female members of the family join forces to prepare the Raya dishes for the following day. A vibrant atmosphere fills the air as they talk and laugh together while performing the activity.
Ketupat daun palas is a compulsory menu for us every year. It’s our favourite. Some people might not know this but the crust of the ketupat is actually delicious when served with condensed milk. Our siblings will almost compete amongst ourselves to get our hands on the ketupat crust.
Mashitah also says that despite the MCO and its travel restrictions, she doesn’t want a sombre Raya atmosphere for her family. The tradition of making ketupat daun palas will be continued with her husband and children.
3. A celebration for everyone
Although many associate Hari Raya with the Malay and Muslim communities in the country, in reality, it is a festive season celebrated by all Malaysians. This something that is also echoed by Lim Chong Teck.
I’ve always loved the hospitality shown by my Muslim friends who welcome us into their homes and treat us like one of the family. Not to forget, there will also be a yummy feast prepared for guests. You definitely can’t say no to a second or third serving! After that, we can enjoy delicious Raya cookies and sit around the house as we chat and welcome more visitors.
4. The first experience
When thinking about traditional Raya food, the image of lemang will often pop into one’s mind. And for Hazwan Lewan, his first experience of trying to make lemang at his grandma’s house 12 years ago is what he regards as his favourite Raya experience.
The start was a little messy. We had many trials and errors along with multiple taste tests every now and then. However, after a couple of hours, we had a good system up and running.
“My dad and uncles soon learned that the lemang would take a slightly longer time to cook than we had anticipated. By the end of the day, we were all extremely exhausted, but we were very happy because our lemang turned out to be nothing short of amazing!”
5. Being on duty
Although Raya is the largest festive season in the country, there are still some who are on duty during this period. However, for Chee Choo Yon, it can still be an enjoyable occasion. For Chee, who works in an international airport, Hari Raya is when he gets to don his traditional Malay outfit.
We live in a multiracial country and I feel proud to wear a traditional Malay outfit alongside my colleagues. We get to showcase our culture to foreign visitors. When I wear a Malay outfit, I feel excited. The feeling is different and the mood of Hari Raya Aidilfitri is in full force.
The stories above are just a small selection of the experiences shared by our readers. We’ve sure many of you have your own favourite Raya moments too. Hopefully, the new normal will end soon and future editions of Hari Raya will be back to the way they used to be. For that purpose, let’s work hard together to end the pandemic!
Stay safe, and adhere to the SOPs: