This year, the Malaysian community had coined the phrase DeepaRaya where Deepa came from Deepavali and Raya from Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Both the Hindus and Muslims will be celebrating these two festival within days of each other.
Tomorrow, the Hindus all over the world celebrate Diwali, popularly known as Deepavali in Malaysia. Diwali means rows of lighted lamps, as it signifies the triumph of good over evil – light over darkness. Hence, Diwali is also known as Festival of Lights. During this period, the Hindus light up their house with oil lamps or of late with colourful fairy lights. Everyone in the family wakes up early on Diwali to have oil baths before dressing up in new attire, done in the prayer room. Then, they conduct pooja (prayers).
Two nights ago, I was thick in action at Brickfields, a place famous for Indian shops and food. Went thru rows of temporary stalls selling colourful clothings, sweets (delicious ladu, ghee balls, murrukus... yummy) and decorative lights. Whoa, I was really in the mood! Amazing!!! Its really too bad that I did not bring along my digicam cos it was really an impromptu visit there. We hate crowds usually but hubby had wanted to look for some items over there so no choice but to tag along. I'm glad I did!!! The sight and smell really make it so festival. I managed to find a lone picture from TV Smith's photoblog. Check it out here.
This is how Ghee Balls looked like. Yum yum...
As for Hari Raya (Day of Celebration in Malay), it is also known as Hari Raya Puasa (puasa means fasting in Malay) or Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Muslims celebrate the festival of Aidilfitri to mark the culmination of Ramadhan, the holy month of fasting. It is a joyous occasion for Muslims, as it signifies a personal triumph, a victory of self-restraint and abstinence, symbolising purification and renewal.
Fasting during the month of Ramadhan is a must, whereby Muslims abstained from satisfying their most basic needs and urges, daily, between sunrise and sunset. It is one of the five tenets of Islam; as is the paying of zakat (alms tax for the poor), which must be tithed by the end of Ramadhan.
In Malaysia, the period of fasting ends when the new moon is sighted on the evening of the last day of Ramadhan. This year, its predicted to fall on the 14th November. Aidilfitri is celebrated for the whole month of Syawal, but in Malaysia, only the first two days are observed as public holidays.
Well since Diwali is on 11th and Hari Raya holiday is from 14th to 16th, I've taken leave for 4 days which takes me back to work only on the 22nd November. Wooohoooo.... so I might be quiet during this period.
Urbanites of all races make their pilgrimage to their hometowns (this is popularly referred to as balik kampung), to be with parents, relatives and old friends. Thus, cities like Kuala Lumpur will be relatively quiet during this period. Such a bliss!
The Muslim community ushers in the first day of Aidilfitri by performing morning prayers at mosques. Then it's usually breakfast at home with the family, followed by a visit to the cemetery where deceased loved ones are remembered; graves are cleaned and cleared of overgrowth, and prayers are offered to Allah.
Aidilfitri is a time to forgive and forget past quarrels. Asking for pardon is done in order of seniority. The younger members of a family approach their elders (parents, grandparents etc) to seek forgiveness, to salam (Muslim equivalent of a handshake), then kiss the hands of the older person as a sign of respect.
Unique to Malaysia, we have this open house thingy where friends, families and even strangers would visit the homes of those who are celebrating the festival, to wish them well and enjoy the feast prepared by their hosts. So this year I get to go to both Diwali and Raya open houses to feast on all the goodies. Can't wait to dig into putu mayam, mutton curry, murruku, rendang, ketupat, lemang...
From front to back - Beef rendang (a type of dry beef curry), Lemang (glutinous rice with coconut milk cooked in bamboo) and Ketupat (compact rice cooked in nipah leaves casing).
The various kuih-muih (sweet cakes)...
Anyone throwing open house, please invite me yahhh :D
To all my Hindu and Muslim readers,
Happy Diwali & Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Maaf Zahir Batin!!!