Mostly I’m too old and too married to be given angpow/duit raya/gifts during raya. But in that absence I’ve realize what Hari Raya really means. I’ve also realize how humongous this one event is.
To help non-muslims and non-malay countires to understand I’ll relate to other holidays.
Hari Raya is like:
1. Thanksgiving – family members, close and distant relatives get together and catchup. and oh yeah.. some houses visited are “open houses” meaning they prepare a buffet for visitor to eat…where’s my turkey pants!?!
2. Christmas – People go last minute shopping and decorate their houses with lights and ornaments. no dolls or or pictures of animals and stuff. Almost Everyhouse is dressed in its best decor! watch out for the electric bill :p
3. Independence day (and Chinese new year) – After a whole month of fasting the whole day, (not night as well) people love to celebrate with a bang! firecrackers, cherry bombs, and even fireworks. This year i’ve seen a lot of people buy 6 pack sized fireworks that produce a few seconds worth of July 4th! Watchout for the firehazard. I feel sorry for people who want to sleep early.
4. Halloween – okay, so people don’t dressed as ghouls.. but they dressed their best out of the whole year. and there are a lot of candies for everyhouse you visit.. my sisters often grab some candies and put them in their hand bags.. oh yeah.. their in their 20’s. hmm..this also the time we usually visit the graves of our loved ones… hmmm… so its haloween..ish? :p
5. Valentine’s day… okay so its not lovers’ day…but hey.. Some people send to each other letters, postcards (kad raya), e-mails and sms’s celebrating the holiday.. and couples tend to dress in similar colours when visiting other people’s houses. hmmm… I don’t get kad raya anymore… anyone out there still does this?
Apparently there are slight differences, between islamic countries, but its more or less the same. I heard Middle east muslims celebrate it for that day only and call it Eid Mubarak. But us malays (Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei) call it Aidilfitri and celebrate it upto the whole month of syawal! (arabic calendar) Let the celebration continue!!!
We often say to each other Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Maaf Zahir dan Batin. directly translated as Good celebration Day of Aidilfitri (that word’s arabic, i’m not sure what it means), and Apologies for any physical or emotional/spiritual mistakes. Oh its also a time of forgiveness..I especially love that part 🙂
Okay, I hope I painted a good picture of raya.
Happy celebrations and Apologies for any misgivings.