Friday, July 23, 2010

A Holiday in Malaysia

Hari Raya Aidilfitri

It is the Malay term for the Muslim festival of Eid ul-Fitr (also seen as Hari Raya Idul Fitri and Hari Raya Puasa, literally "Celebration Day of Fasting"). Hari Raya is also known as Lebaran. Muslims in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines celebrate Eid like other Muslims throughout the world. The term "Hari Raya" literally means "Day of Celebration" — it is also occasionally used to refer to Eid ul-Adha in the form of "Hari Raya Aidiladha". The main greeting used by Muslims in Malaysia and Singapore is "Selamat Hari Raya" which means "Happy Eid" in Malay. Another greeting is "maaf zahir dan batin" which translates loosely to "I seek forgiveness (from you) physically and spiritually", for Hari Raya is a time to reconcile and renew relationships with others.

Promotions and Decorations
In big cities and towns, shopping malls and commercial centers may hold big promotions and price discounts for festive shoppers as people purchase clothes and supplies. Decorations are hung in public areas and Hari Raya songs will be played in shopping complexes. The media, such as the television may host various programs in conjunction with the celebrations.

Returning to One's Hometown
Many people also traditionally return to their hometown generally from big metropolitan cities to rural areas. This is known as balik kampung — literally going back to one's home town to celebrate Hari Raya with family and friends.

During the Muslim month of Ramadan leading up to Hari Raya, it is mandatory for Muslims to fast from dawn to dusk. All Muslims except the young, old or infirm must fast.

Breaking the Fast
Widely, markets, or 'Ramadan bazaars' are held in many areas around the country, where all sorts of food and kuih — traditional Malay delicacies — are sold for breaking fast or buka puasa.

Preparation during the Eve
On the eve of Hari Raya, Muslims will recite the takbir, which is held in mosques and surau (smaller place of worship). In some communities, there will be congregations reciting the takbir from house to house.

Usually on the eve of the celebrations, family members, especially mothers and housewives, become busy preparing food, cakes, sweets, biscuits and various delicacies to be served on the day of Hari Raya. Delicacies such as ketupat or rice cake and a meat cuisine called rendang are among the most famous cuisines that are served during this day. Other family members may help in other chores such as decorating and cleaning up the house.

Days before Hari Raya, house compounds, particularly those in the countryside may be lit up with oil lamps known as pelita or panjut. This display of oil lamps will reach its height on the 27th night of Ramadan, called the Tujuh Likur night. 'Likur' literally meaning a figure between 20 and 30, hence 'tujuh likur' means twenty seven. Originally during the early days of the arrival of Islam among the Malays, the purpose of lighting the oil lamps was to attract spirit of passed relatives and angels to descend to people's homes during the night of Lailatulqadar. Nowadays, the oil lamps are lit solely for decorative purposes.

It is customary for Malays to wear traditional Malay costumes. The dress for men is called baju Melayu while the women's are known as baju kurung and baju kebaya. Traditional textiles such as songket and batik are worn favorably during this day.

Day Activities
Muslims will attend Eid prayer in the morning and consecrate together harmoniously while taking the chance to meet and greet each other. Once the prayer is done, it is also common for Muslims in Malaysia to visit the grave of their loved ones. During this visit, they will clean the grave, perform the recital of the Yasin — a chapter (surah) from the Qur'an and also the tahlil or prayers for the deceased. All these are done in hope that their loved ones are blessed by God and they are spared from the punishment in the grave.

The rest of the day is spent visiting relatives or serving visitors. Hari Raya is a very joyous day for children for this is the day where adults are extra generous. Children may be given token sums of money, also known as duit raya from their parents and elders.

Night Activities
During the night, there are often celebrations with sparklers and firecrackers. Some Malay children turn to home-made firecrackers such as meriam buluh (bamboo cannon) as alternatives to commercial fireworks. Usually, the lighting of firecrackers begins a few days before the end of Ramadan, and continues for about a week afterwards.

Source: Wikipedia

Monday, July 5, 2010

Getting the Stress Out

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.
Henry Miller

I loved being alone in the island. It's called "Monkey Island", at A' Famosa in Melacca.

Actually, I can't find the monkeys. Do you think there is a possibility that they were referring to the visitors as the monkeys, that's why the name Monkey Island? Okay, just fooling around a bit.

I was there standing in front of the water, feeling serene. I found a bench where I sat down. I also found a lady staff. Your guess is right, she took my photo, of course, for souvenir.

I spent some more exhilarating moments at this place, watching peacocks' tails go wishy-washy to the left then to the right, nice rhythm.

I strolled around, deeply inhaling the cool fresh air. What a way to de-stress. This is great! I'm blessed.

A little later I saw the raft approaching the island, ready to pick up a relaxed, refreshed, grateful "me".

A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. Lao Tzu
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