September 25, 2011

Remembering Eid-A Nostalgic Journey.

By Google Images.

1st of Shawal every year always brings joy to Muslims all over the world. After one month of fasting, testing our patience, perseverance and obedience to Allah the Almighty, is quite enduring. The result should make us better Muslims than we were before, InshaAllah.

Muslims with family, especially born Muslims, enjoys it more than new reverts, most of them are alone and some of them completely without family support, how do they celebrate this joyous day? Western Muslims do not have a specific ritual about celebrating it as this is very new to some of them.

By Google Images.

I would like to share some of my experiences here celebrating Eid ( Hari Raya ) here in my beloved country Malaysia. The earliest I could remember celebrating Eid was when I was maybe about 3-4 years old. My father works with the British army at that time in the Infirmary. He was based in Kluang, a small town in Johor, Southern part of Malaysia. We lived in army barracks. During Eid that time, I remembered wearing a very flare skirt, and we ( all the children ) were loaded on to a huge army truck.

An army truck, we were small, so it definitely looks huge. Images by Google.

Then we were quickly whisk to a tented area, those days it was built, yes built on site with wood, nailed and roof made of zink. Even the tables and benches are built on the spot and tables covered with plastic covering. If you do not sit quietly, you might just get a splinter into your bum, ha ha ha. A big rounded tray with heaped of rice and I cannot remember whether it was chicken or meat or maybe just gravy, but we all enjoyed it a alot, 5-6 children shared a tray.

Rice and gravy in a large tray. Normally it would be Bariani. Images by Google.

Sharing together, really fun. Images by Google.

When I srarted schooling, I was sent to live with my grandparents in Muar, further North of Johor. My parents and other siblings are in Cameron Highlands at that time. I cannot remember celebrating Eid in Cameron Highlands. In Muar, my parents do not normally come back every year. Some of the years I celebrated with my grandparents and cousins. We used to go house to house, all around the neighbourhood. When we enter the house after giving Salam, we would look under the drinking glass if there is any money. Some house would put 5 cents and some rich people would put 20 cents, some would wait for us to finish our food and drink before distributing the coins. Those days the coins really means a lot. One very embarrassing incident was when the next day we wanted to go to the same house for Raya. We were told off, "yesterday you all have come here, go to another house". It was really embarrassing, it is not polite to visit a house twice, even your own family, unless specifically invited.

During the years when my family would come back for Raya, all of the other aunts and uncles all over Malaysia and Singapore would come back to Muar too. They'll be chopping, grinding, cooking and yakking all night long till dawn. It was bustling with joy. The children would play with fireworks outside.

Images by Google.

Images by Goolge.

 It was really fun. Children now days don't get to play this anymore as it has been banned by the Government because of grievous injury it could cause.

One of those times when my parents would come back for Raya, I already had a baby brother (my youngest). He was afraid of me, he was about 1-2 years old I think. I took all of my siblings onto a trishaw, using my Raya money, it cost only 30 cents for a certain length of trip, so I took all of them to Tanjung Mas. It is a place where the river meets the sea. Even though the water cannot be used for swimming, people always gather around there to view the wide river meeting the sea. There are also playground and food stalls there. I put my youngest brother on top of a very high slide and slide him down, oblivious that he was crying. There was a puddle right at the end of the slide and I couldn't catch him on time. Wearing all white, he was covered with mud all over. My parents did not know that I took all of  my siblings away for a field trip, so you all know what happens afterwards.

A trishaw or "beca". Images by Google.

The slide. Images by Google.

Another incident that I cannot forget was when dad decided to take us somewhere for Raya. We do not have any kind of transportation at that time. So all 7 of us walked to the nearest bus station and tried to catch a moving bus. My mom and 3 other siblings was already on the bus, the bus was packed to the steps. Me and dad and another brother was trying to get hold of the bus. Everybody shouted to stop the bus, when it finally halted my mom and others came down and we waited for the next bus. We could have been separated at that time as my mom is very poor with public transport, even now. She don't even know how to take a cab.

As I grew older and started to work and beginning to understand Islam. The spirit of Eid  has changed inside me. It is not a cultural celebration anymore. Eid is an inner or spiritual or even a personal celebration of achievements against the power of Nafs (the greater JIHAD). The ability to control anger, backbiting, eating, seeking and getting involve in Haram activities is actually a great achievement. Some people took the opportunity of Eid to start wearing Hijab.

After marriage and having kids of my own, I found that Eid (Raya) is enjoyed most by kids. Eid means new clothings, new shoes and all. This is also an opportunity to teach kids not to be wasteful. Whichever they can still wear, they would inform me or dad not to buy, last year outfits is still good enough. But for those whom had outgrown their size, nevertheless we would still have to buy for them new ones.

In Malaysia Raya is celebrated throughout the month of Shawal and sometimes even into Zulkaedah. This is because it is celebrated at National level, Cooperate level, Family level, Friends level, Neighbours and kids level. "Open houses" are held so that people do not come unexpectedly and that host are well prepared to receive their guest with lots of goodies and variety of food. is in abundance here and the poor and orphaned are also not forgotten.

The King open Palace 2011. Our King and Queen are in pink. Anybody, any creed any walk of life can come and shake hand with the King. The one in orange is our PM. Images by Google.

It can be as grand as this.

Packets of money are distributed, instead of leaving it under the glass.

Cooking lemang. A traditional favourite. Made with glutinous rice and coconut milk.

The cooked lemang with serunding daging.

Ketupat Palas. Made with glutinous rice and coconut milk and steamed.

Ketupat (uncooked). Made with rice and boiled for several hours.

Cooked ketupat

Rendang, normally cooked with meat or chicken. Different states in Malaysia have their own traditional way of preparing rendang. So if you go to different state or even different houses in Malaysia there would be different type or taste of rendang.

Nasi Impit (cubed rice) with kuah kacang (peanut sauce).

Raya cakes.

Modern cookies

Traditional modernized Pineapple Tart.

Kuih Ros or Kuih Goyang.

 Kuih siput.


Putu kacang. I used to help my grandma made this, in our place it is called Kuih Koya.

Traditional cookies.

 All of the above Images by Google.

Sarawak traditional Kek Lapis (Layered cake). Noticed the designed? You can see more here Kek Lapis Sarawak.

These are some of the delicacies served during Eid, there are many more variety. If you all would one day come to Malaysia, InshaAllah, do come during Eid, just after Ramadhan or come just before Eid so that you could experience Ramadhan and Eid with us too. Make sure your itinerary includes "Raya Open House"!.

I know this might be too much for some people. Eid has been celebrated in our culture for generations, it is up to individual person or families  how they want to celebrate it. I myself celebrated modestly among families. I have big families, we normally go for Eid prayers in the morning, then visit my mom and relatives. The second day is reserved for my step-children and families to visit their daddy. I normally prepare a certain cuisine specially for them, my mom and siblings would also join in. I have step grandchildren too. During the weekend I would prepare another cuisine specially for my husbands siblings, children and grandchildren and then maybe another one for friends.

Sometimes we have one big "open house", inviting everybody, my cousins, hubby cousins, kids friends and school or classmate and all of our friends and neighbours, staff and everybody we knew. Then I would have to call the caterers. We do get a lot of "open houses" invitation too.