It is that time of the year again. In Malaysia, we call it Hari Raya. It marks the end of the fasting month, which is the Ramadhan month. In the month of Ramadhan we fast during the day time and eat only between dusk till dawn. Both the young and the old would shop for new clothes and we will do our prayers the first thing in the morning and we visit the graves of our loved ones as our mark of respect and filial piety.
We will be preparing many delicious spread for the big day such as cookies, kuih and other traditional dishes.
Lemang and dodol is almost indispensable when it comes to Raya celebration. In many Malay villages, the villagers will gather together and do the dodol stirring as a community event. Then the dodol will be distributed to all families. Today, it is commercialised. Dodol is a sweet (palm sugar) gooey starch like delicacy and today it comes in many flavours. There is durian flavoured dodol, pandan dodol, coconut dodol and many more.
Families would gather and a lot of catching up with relatives that are from a far. So naturally there is not enough sleeping place. It is always the house of the elders that the younger ones would visit. That is another sign of respect.
The Big Day
The days starts with the cockerel's crow. Many centuries ago, the picture above depicts me, sleep deprived from the endless chatting at night and playing our very own 'meriam buluh' a homemade carbide cannon. But I have to get going before my mom starts nagging me. Trust me, when she nags, even the magpies would be put to shame.
We often don't have the luxury of having our own toilet. Unlike houses today where each house will have a few toilets, sometimes even two toilets to a single room. In the past, the common toilet is shared amongst villagers, so the queue is long and those with bowel problems will have to relieve themselves in the bushes and then blame the cow for the indiscriminate dumping.
So, after doing our 'business' in the community toilet, that is how we start forging friendship while waiting for our turn, we will head to do what is obligated. We will head to the nearest mosque and perform our prayers. That is also a highlight to me when I was young. Get to see everyone feeling festive and joyful.
Once we are done, then we go around collecting this little green packets from our elders called 'duit raya'. It is usually given to the young ones, usually those who is not married. I am not sure if you are an unmarried 40 year old, you would still be entitled to the same. That is one question that only the elders can answer. Then there is this common parade by the ladies to see how has the best 'baju raya' (Raya clothes) and the winner will be decided by who showers them with the most praises. It is a subjective process. There is no prize for winning but the pure joy of being praised is more than enough.
Alas, this is the typical scenario in the typical household after the prayers and cemetery visit. Rounds of chatting, catching up and eating. That is how we stock up after 1 full month of fasting. So that we have energy for the entire year till the next fasting season.
Like what they say in Malaysia,
'Selamat Hari Raya!'