Hari Raya Celebration – one of the biggest celebration in Malaysia which marks the end of the fasting month, and the beginning of feasts nationwide. It is also a time to be with family and friends, and a time to “mohon maaf zahir & batin“, which I think is a very humble thing to do; also sort of done by the Chinese during Chinese New Year when we serve tea to our parents and then everyone wishes everyone well.
As my first Raya celebration in many many years (let’s give it a figure of 10), I was utterly over the moon when there was an opportunity to go to the Prime Minister’s official residence for an “Open House”. Immediately, thoughts of lemang, rendang, curry, ketupat, and bandung came to my mind. I even had a baju raya for the occassion.
So, bright and early on the 1st of Syawal, I woke up and donned on the baju kebaya. It was a really pretty dress, I must admit, altho’ I didn’t realise that it would actually take me a while with the kain; I almost missed my transport~! Anyway, upon arrival in Putrajaya, traffic was slow: there were many Mercedes-Benz, BMW and other luxury cars with special car plates and little flags. It was like tv-shows come true. Never had I imagined I’d see this right before me. So many important people…it made me feel so small as nobody there knows who I am, and I’m not entirely sure which VIP is who. Just keep smiling, I told myself.
Once in there, I just salam everyone’s hands; well, not everyone, ‘cos I didn’t salam with the male staff, unless they’re VIPs. Everyone gets an opportunity to greet the Prime Minister. I was so nervous! The PM! I was glad that I didn’t just drop onto the floor and faint when it was my turn. I’m glad I was polite altho’ I couldn’t stop smiling, and wished everyone on the long queue, “Selamat Hari Raya“. As we’re all in the One Malaysia spirit, I stopped judging people by their looks or what they wear to say, “Hello” to the non-Muslims or “Selamat Hari Raya” to the Muslims. I got confused, because just like me, most people are in their Raya clothes: baju melayu, baju kurung, baju kebaya, etc. The hardest part was VIPs wearing batik shirts. So in the end, I just wished everyone “Selamat Hari Raya” as that’s the reason why we’re there: to celebrate Raya.
What I can see clearly is happy and friendly people, greeting each other without discrimination. Even the performers were of different races, and there was this girl with her electric violin who played songs from different cultures. There was also a 1 Malaysia logo made up of flowers, and lots of cakes from well wishers.
The buffet spread was a mix of cultures and from simple favourites like keropok lekor, tosai with chutney/dhal, murtabak, mee soto, assam laksa, roti bom, nasi beriyani, tauhu sumbat, rojak buah with sotong and kangkung, another kind of rojak with the prawn pangsit, ice kacang, and of course, lemang and rendang and some others I didn’t get to check out. On the table, there was a tray of different curries, ketupat, juicy satay, juice, water, even coffee and tea. It was a delight to the eyes, the nose, and the tastebuds~!
I had so much fun tasting all these foods that I’ve missed for so long, and the festive mood was great, with live entertainment. Guests even get a door gift! What more could one ask for? mMmm…perhaps a green packet with RM50 in it. Ha ha…
I rate this experience 8.5/10.
It’s probably a one in a lifetime experience? I wish I could have asked the PM some questions and we can have a chat over some teh tarik. Ha ha… just wondering.