The arrival of Syawal marks the day of joy and happiness for Muslims as they have victoriously wrapped up a whole month of fasting and spiritual activities. With that being said, what better way to celebrate than the long-awaited auspicious occasion, Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Hari Raya has always been seen as a time when families from far and near gather to catch up and celebrate some good food and a good time. If you are one of those lucky ones, being able to grow up celebrating Hari Raya in a 'kampung' setting brings back a ton of unforgettable memories with cousins that made our Raya extra special.
However, this year gives us such a bittersweet taste when reminiscing the good ol' days as many Malaysians have to celebrate Hari Raya alone or away from family due to the strict restrictions of Movement Control Order (MCO) or PKP, enforced by the Malaysian Ministry of Health due to COVID-19. Although nothing has changed since Raya 2020, let's use 2021 to be grateful for the simple things in life and reminisce together on all the iconic activities we've done during Hari Raya back when we still could 'balik kampung.'
Convoy With Families On Hours-Long Ride While Singing Raya Songs
Talking about the joys of having a 'kampung' to go back to, the highlight of the initial journey is always the drive back to our hometown. What's funny is that no matter how far apart each family is, some would still go to the extent of meeting halfway at an R&R (Rest and Recreation) just to convoy and arrive together. It's always fun to switch places, so you get to sit in the car with your favourite cousin for hours while singing along to all the famous Raya songs on the radio. What a joy!
Everyone Squeezing In and Sleeping Together On The Floor of the Living Room
There's nothing more fun than coming back to our grandparents house to see our cousins and play all the usual games like The Floor Is Lava and getting yelled at for stomping on all the couches! However, what happens when the house only has three tiny bedrooms and multiple families with an abundance of kids? Time to spread out the 'toto' and have a massive sleepover in the living room! As kids, we don't really think about it much, but the older we get, the more we realize that that was one of the best things to experience during Raya.
Fighting Over Who Gets To Shower First On Raya Morning
Aside from the lack of bedrooms, another big obstacle we have to face every time is the race over who gets to shower first, especially when there's only 1 bathroom to share! Remember when each parent would just go around waking up their kids and reminding them that whoever gets ready last will get left behind? Not that you can do anything about it when you have to win the race against 10 of your cousins, but the best strategy is always to have your towel ready on hand and do the waiting game right in front of the bathroom!
Visiting Distant Relatives Who You Only See Once A Year
Hari Raya is perceived as a time to seek forgiveness from your family and spend some time with those you rarely meet. Huge gatherings and open houses are an absolute must during Hari Raya, especially with relatives who you only see once a year during this festivity. However, that also means you will surely get bombarded with the most random yet familiar questions you get every year, such as "Belajar lagi ke?” even though they’ve asked you that same question for the past 7 years.
Annoying Your Neighbours By Playing 'Bunga Api' With Your Cousins
Reminiscing on the good ol’ days, it’s always an exciting adventure to see dads coming home with a huge plastic bag filled with all sorts of ‘bunga api’ (firecrackers). While you're eager to start lighting them up, it's almost a given that we as kids will put our patience to the test by putting it off to wait until all the cousins have gathered to start playing together. Though it is never those dangerous or illegal ones, there will surely be that one cousin who manages to sneak in one crazy-looking mercun, which will lead to an unpleasant scolding from the parents. Remember, kids, learn from people’s mistakes because it’s never worth it. Just stick to the simple ‘bunga api’!
Stuffing Your Face With Raya Food At Every Hour of The Day
Let’s be honest – Raya would not be complete without all the traditional kuih and Raya food such as ketupat, rendang, lemang, sambal kacang, and so much more. This is usually the time where people say goodbye to their diet and eat sporadically throughout the day, savoring every bite before the holiday ends, and you have to wait another full year before you get to eat them again! We know you can’t resist these mouth-watering dishes, especially when every house you visit is greeted by your aunt, who will guilt-trip you into eating when you just ate at the last 3 houses you've visited!
These were definitely simpler times but chin up! Just because we can’t ‘balik kampung’ doesn’t mean that Raya is canceled. Let’s end this holy month by counting our blessings, find strength in people that are close to us and make this Raya a memorable one as well!