Hari Raya literally means ‘celebration day’, and Hari Raya Aidilfitri is the day that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of dawn-to-sunset fasting. Hari Raya Aidilfitri is considered one of the two most important celebrations for Muslims, the other being Hari Raya Haji – the festival of Abraham’s sacrifice.
Hari Raya is one of the biggest holidays in Malaysia, and many Muslims (and even non-Muslims) return to their family home (balik kampong) driving or flying home for a couple of days before the day to be with their families and loved ones. There are often jams during this travelling time but these soon resolve as other travellers reach their destinations.
Hari Raya Aidilfitri sees families and friends seeking forgiveness from each other, visiting ancestors’ graves, saying prayers at the mosque and visiting relatives and friends to feast traditional Malay delicacies like ketupat, rendang, satay, lemang and curry. In Malaysia, children are given token sums of money from their parents or elders.
The Ramadan period has communal aspects to it with many of the basic values of the Muslim community, such as empathy for the poor, charity, worship, steadfastness and patience being expressed more during this period.
During Ramadan, decorations of kampung houses, ketupats, oil lamps and colourful lights decorate big malls like Mid Valley, 1 Utama, Pavilion, Sunway Pyramid and the Curve. Little shops also are decorated in the lead-up.
Across the country, the Ramadan month provides great food choices for those who like to sample authentic Malay cuisines. Ramadan bazaars are set up across various neighbourhoods like Pantai Dalam, TTDI, Section 17, Section 14, Kelana Jaya, and Cheras, with a huge selection of food stalls lining the streets.
Hari Raya Aidilfitri is a joyous celebration that involves happy feasting in homes everywhere where family members greet one another with Selamat Hari Raya.