Raya open house etiquette: Dos & don’t

With Hari Raya just around the corner, we’ve gathered a list of dos and don’ts to help you with your Raya visit.

hari raya, open house

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After spending a full month stuffing our faces in the mouth-watering ayam percik, murtabak and the ever-aromatic lemang in our favourite Ramadhan Bazaar, it is time for Malaysians to bid farewell to the month of Ramadan and celebrate Eid Al-Fitri or in Bahasa Malaysia, Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

Customarily, the sacred festival of Eid al-Fitri begins with an early visit to the mosque to be apart of a congregational eid prayer, and after that posing #Rayaootd with your squad and receiving green packets from the elderly. In Malaysia, those who celebrate the festival will bring the celebration up a notch by hosting a Raya open house — a small get-together where friends, families and neighbours are invited to join in the celebrations.

However, before you barge into the next open house you’re invited to, take a look at some of our tips of what to do and what to avoid during your Raya visit.

DO: Check what time to arrive

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Just because it’s an open house doesn’t mean you can come and go as you please. The last thing you want is catching them at the wrong hour, such as prayer times. A simple rule of thumb here is to check the best time to visit and be on time.

DON’T: Wear clothes that are too revealing

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We all want to dress to impress, but when it comes to Raya open house, it’s best to dress modestly. Items like shorts, mini skirts, sleeveless tops, body-hugging dresses are a big no-no, so it’s best to leave these for another occasion. While skimpy clothes aren’t forbidden — don’t worry, you will not be kicked out of the house — your host might take it as a sign of disrespect. So what can I wear, you may ask. The tip here is to wear something comfortable. You don’t have to cover every inch of your body, a simple t-shirt and jeans will do, too! Or to embrace the Raya spirit even more, don yourself in the traditional Malay clothing like Baju Kurung.

DO: Help yourself with the food

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Despite our differences, the one thing all Malaysians can agree on is our love for food. If anyone has the audacity to tell us how to cook our chicken rendang or leave us out in a programme that solely talks about street food in Asia, you bet we will do whatever it takes to fight for our scrumdiddlyumptious cuisine.

The other thing that we can agree on: Food’s the best way to the heart. Which is why when it comes to festive season like Hari Raya, there’s always a smorgasbord of local favourites like rendang, nasi lemak and ayam sambal prepared for everyone. And don’t worry about overeating. In fact, eat as much as you can because nothing puts a smile on your host’s face more than seeing you enjoy the food that they serve.

Pro tip: If you’re hopping from one open house to another on the same day, try not to overeat, so that you will be able to sample all the different kinds of food.

DON’T: Eat with your left hand

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As with the Indian culture, you should always receive or handle food with only your right hand. Not only is it a sign of disrespect, but in the Malay customs, the left hand is often deemed as “unhygienic” as it is typically used to clean oneself after using the washroom. To avoid giving people the wrong impression, just avoid using your left hand altogether.

DO: Greet the host

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Sure it seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes people tend to forget even the simplest gesture like greeting your host and wishing them a prosperous Hari Raya. It’s not a must, but manners maketh man, and equipping yourself with a good attitude goes a long way.

Upon entering the house, you can greet your host by calling out “Assalamualaikum” and you will be answered by “Waalaikumsalam”, which wishes peace to be bestowed upon each other. But of course, this is not necessary. If you aren’t familiar with the customs, a simple handshake will do, too!

DON’T: Overstay your welcome

We know how hospitable and welcoming it can be during an open house visit, and we know how amazing it is to catch up with old friends over food and reminisce about the good ol’ days. Nevertheless, it is not advisable to stay for the entire day. Sure, your host may insist you to make yourself comfortable, but do keep in mind that they will expect a host of guests coming in and out of the house and they’d need to make time to entertain them. So the best thing to do here is to excuse yourself if you see people start arriving.

DO: Help out wherever you can

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As fun as it may seem, hosting an open house can be quite laborious. From waking up in the wee hour to prepare food to cleaning up the house and entertaining guests, your host has a lot on his plate. You can help ease up the workload by clearing your plate and taking it to the kitchen. You can even help washing the plates if you want to. But of course, it’s not necessary to do so — your host may even forbid you from helping.

DON’T: Open Raya packet in front of people

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You know how it’s rude to open ang pao packets or gifts in front of the gifter? The same concept applies to Raya packets. If you’re visiting with kids, inform them to hold off opening the packets until they’re home. You don’t want them running around tearing the Raya packets and counting the amount they received in front of the host as it is discourteous.

So there you have it, the dos and don’ts of raya open house visit. We hope that this article will provide you with a simple guide on how to be the perfect guest and score you an early invite for next year’s celebration!

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