Eid-ul Fitr is a day of victory for Muslims all over the world after a month of fasting and in Malaysia, it is a truly joyous occasion filled with festive cheer and merriment. Starting from a week before the 1st of Syawal, Malaysians would start going back to their hometowns. This is often referred to as the ‘Hari Raya Exodus’ as the highways from the north to the south would be jam-packed with cars.
The day before Eid is often the busiest time for those celebrating. The whole day would be spent preparing an array of traditional dishes and getting the
house ready for the celebrations. Traditional dishes typically served for Eid here are ‘ketupat’ (compressed rice cakes encased in woven coconut leaves), ‘rendang’ (a spicy and aromatic dish made of meat, chilli paste, coconut milk, grounded coconut, and spices), spicy peanut sauce and ‘lemang’ (glutinous rice with coconut milk cooked in hollowed bamboo sticks lined with banana leaves). It is also common to see cookie jars filled with a variety of traditional and modern cookies in different colours and tastes – locally referred to as ‘Kuih Raya’ – served at every house for guests to enjoy.
The festive atmosphere felt throughout Ramadan reaches its peak on the first day of Eid-ul Fitr. Malaysians would be dressed in fine traditional clothes, called ‘Baju Melayu’ for the men and ‘Baju Kurung’ for the women. They would start the day with seeking forgiveness from family members, before departing for the mosque to perform Eid prayers. After prayers, they would proceed to visit the graves of loved ones, before visiting friends and relatives.
Malaysians ‘celebrate’ Eid-ul Fitr not just for one day but a whole month. The spirit of Eid continues for the rest of Syawal. Malaysians use this month as an opportunity to strengthen personal ties and visit all their friends and relatives – some of whom they haven’t seen in a long time. During this month, little paper packets filled with money would change hands as an act of sadaqah (giving).
The most unique thing about Eid in Malaysia is perhaps the long-standing tradition of ‘open houses’ held at almost every residence, which showcases Malaysia’s harmonious multicultural existence the best. On this day, the house is ‘open’ to all guests – regardless of social status, religion and race – just enjoying good food, good company and a good time.
Date of Input: 19/05/2022 | Updated: 22/06/2022 | aslamiah
Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang ,Selangor