After almost a month of basking in the reflected glory of Ramadhan bazaars (read: everyone’s favourites of ayam percik, bubur lambuk and the ubiquitous roti John), it’s that time of the year again when we celebrate
the long awaited five consecutive holidays Hari Raya Aidilfitri – concluding the significant end of traffic congestion Ramadan fasting month.
As the big day draws closer and our sky once again brims with an assorted array of illegal sparklers and firecrackers, you’ve probably also received a hefty stack of Raya invitations piled up (ahem, provided you’ve been embracing the essence of diversity in you).
Now before you barge in to the nearest shopping mall in search of the perfect Raya ensemble, here are seven gentle reminders to walk you through the do’s and don’ts during your Raya visits. Fingers crossed these clues will reduce the prospect of social gaffes or awkward moments during your
freeloading-days Hari Raya.
#1. Your attire (does) speak volumes
When cracking your cranium over “the-raya-look”, kiss your
mandatory “dress to impress” motto goodbye. Yes, dressing modestly (a.k.a the attitude of propriety and decency) is the watchword; avoid detracting from your natural beauty with heavily caked-on make-up.
Above all, please steer clear of shorts, ripped jeans, sleeveless tops or skimpy getups (read: VERY-tight-figure-hugging-ensemble) as anything that is skin-baring and revealing for both males and females is not only a taboo but also a gesture of disrespect.
#2. End to awkward handshakes
Crash course 101: The Muslim handshake is known as salam, or touching of palms. The gist behind it is that both hands are extended to sandwich the recipient’s right hand. The hands are then retracted – bringing the right hand or both – over the chest/heart for a couple of seconds. Such gesture insinuates the demure gesture of greeting the person from the bottom of your heart as well as signifying a receipt of thanks and acceptance.
Before you go on gifting handshakes to everyone, bear in mind that men and women who aren’t intimately related are not allowed to exhibit any form of physical contact, in accordance with Islamic practice. Hence ladies, do not take it personally if your male hosts only reciprocate your friendly intention of handshaking with a slight nod and hand over their heart.
The same goes for our chaps – if your lady host doesn’t respond, kindly draw back your hands and proceed with a smile, nod of acknowledgement or polite conversation. That will suffice!
#3. Raya calories. Wait…what calories?
Rendang? Longtong? Kek lapis? Bring them on! Chances are, ketupat, serunding or savoury nibbles WILL be in abundance. If calorie is a term that does not exist in your dictionary, hold your horses! Refrain from knuckling down and over-stuffing your face because (1) you’re not in a buffet eatery (2) you’re not an elephant (3) you’re not an elephant.
If you find the need (read: self-imposed pressure) to endlessly gobble down noms as a sign not to offend your host, you can scrap that assumption off your mental wall. In fact, to chow down even just a slice of cake or a piece of cookie is sufficient in fulfilling your host’s sense of duty to look after (read: feed) a guest – yes, a digress from your feasting pattern during Chinese New Year.
#4. Social practice of gifting
Then there’s the dubious aura revolving around the tradition of buah tangan. Should you lug around a basket of dry fruits and nuts or pack mountains of Kuih bahulu and Dodol as souvenirs for every Ali, Ahmad and Akim’s Raya open house?
Wakey wakey! Turns out that bearing gifts are actually unnecessary during Hari Raya as the guest’s presence in the home is already very much appreciated. In other words, it is okay for you to show up empty handed because #youarethegift.
#5. Crispy bank notes in Raya angpows
Let’s be frank – aside from the mandatory feast, a lot of us also not-so-secretly look forward to gathering a bundle of green packets/envelopes. Termed as duit raya which stands for Eid money, the notion behind these green angpows has its basis on the Islamic concept of zakat, where every Muslim is required to provide at least 2.5% to the needy.
Generally, the sum and amount depends on the affordability of the host; a stranger might obtain less as compared to a close family member. If your host has kids (provided that you’re married), you may also offer duit raya to them as friendly gesture. However, keep in mind that giving duit raya from one guest to another guests’ kids is not necessary at all.
#6. Overstaying your welcome
Yes, it is wonderful to have your breakfast, lunch, teatime, dinner and supper all in one shot during Raya but that does not warrant you a green card to take the all-day-guest route. Sure – out of courtesy – your host is very likely to persuade you to make yourself comfortable at home, but please don’t take it literally and make yourself way too comfy.
“But what if my host insists that I roam around longer?”
Well… (1) A Malay home is always bound to reap many guests throughout the day; hence, it is best not to loiter or overstay your welcome. (2) It is deemed rude and discourteous in Malay society to make their guest feel unwelcome, so if more guests are swinging by, do excuse yourself graciously. (3) Be aware of the fact that there are other guests to be entertained (read: you’re not the only soul who’s in for Raya goodies).
Upon arrival, be sure to greet the hosts as well as the elderly, and stay on your feet until you receive an official invitation (read: jemput masuk) to enter their home. When addressing older folks, go by pak cik (uncle) and mak cik (aunty). The minor-leagues may also address you in this manner. But before you raise your eyebrows and dash your way to the washroom for a one-hour-crying-session, know that it is a compliment and a sign of respect #janganperasansangat.
As you make yourself comfortable in your seat, first set your sights on munchies that are nearest to you before expanding your radar. Also, bear in mind to use only your right hand to eat, pass things or for any physical contact with another being (hint: the left hand is considered unhygienic as it’s used mainly for bodily functions).
Now that we have prepped you with all the quintessential protocols, you can go all out rocking your ever-dapper-and-stylish traditional rigs with Raya jingles on full blast! In the spirit of Eid al-Fitr, all of us at EduAdvisor would like to sincerely wish all celebrants SELAMAT MENYAMBUT HARI RAYA AIDILFITRI, MAAF ZAHIR DAN BATIN!
May this season of forgiveness ushers in abundance of warmth and merriment as you indulge in meaningful moments with your loved ones.