Ahhh… Eid. Where I’m from, it is known as Hari Raya Aidilftri, or Eid Al-Fitr. This falls in the month of Syawal, right after we have completed thirty days of fasting in the holy month of Ramadan. It is filled with happiness, glee, prayers to Allah The Almighty and it is time to indulge in all the glorious food. This is celebrated by Muslims all around the world to mark the end of the spiritual month of Ramadan.
The feeling when Syawal comes, it is quite bittersweet. We are saying goodbye to Ramadan and we are welcoming Syawal. This is when families gather, rush home from the city life to be back at home where their families are. Some Muslims countries even have Hari Raya as a national holiday.
“Allahu akbar. Allahu akbar. La ilaha illallah. Allahu akbar. Allahu akbar wa lillahil-hamd”
You could hear the Takbeer Raya all around the country, national television and the radio stations. Personally to me, when I hear the Takbeer, which always happens to be in the early morning of Syawal, it makes me feel sad that Ramadan has left us, and if He wills it, we will meet the holy month again next year.
In Brunei, after the Eid prayers at mosques, we would start off the festivities by getting ready in our Hari Raya outfits, dashing baju cara melayu for the male, and glamourious baju kurung for the female. We would gather as a family and seek for forgiveness from our elderly. For the younger ones, they would usually receive green envelope which is associate with the islamic paradise, which amount depends on how much the host can afford giving to others. Upon doing this, you could see the excitement in their faces, peeking through the packet!
Some families would have to visit the ones who have passed before enjoying this festive season. To greet them with duas and respect. Then, we would proceed to our grandparents’ and elder relatives’ houses and enjoy the food and traditional sweet foods known as ‘kueh’. Our local favourites over the years would be tapak kuda and kueh mor, and the biscuits that families spend so much time making before the month of Syawal arrived.
Something to be expected here too is the numerous of people who would host open houses which is a common practice done during this popular festival. Favourite dishes would be served to invited guests; old friends, new friends, families and relatives to even employees! Everyone will be welcomed to open houses which are usually being hosted early of Syawal and End of Syawal.
An experience not to be missed annually is the chance to visit the Sultan’s royal palace which is known as Istana Nurul Iman. It opens for three days starting from the second day of Hari Raya where the buildings and grounds are permitted to enter and the public is welcomed, whether you are local or foreign, to convey their greetings directly to His Majesty of Brunei and the members of the royal family. You will be ushered through various rooms before meeting His Masjesty and will be treated with lavish meals!
Whenever I’m with my family and we drive past the roads leading up to the palace, I would always see people parked from a far to walk to the palace. The atmosphere of the palace during eid is celebratory!
Indonesia and Malaysia
Hari Raya Aidilfitri is also known as Lebaran. “Selamat Hari Raya” or “Selamat Lebaran” is what is usually being said for the greetings. Eid is observed as a public holiday, so offices and schools are closed, and the muslims will go back to their hometown (known as balik kampung) to reunite with families, seek forgiveness and spend time together as a family.
Every celebration in different countries has its own characteristics. However, there is not much of a traditional difference between these two countries and Brunei. Muslims go for prayers and visit relatives near and far and eat all the delicious and filling food. A key feature on the feast will be the ketupat, which is basically packed rice in neatly woven young palm leaves. It is cut open and usually served with beef rendang. It is a very nostalgic feeling when enjoying this with a good old traditional raya music and some even enjoy playing karaoke at night as an entertainment.
Usually, it is that time of the year where your phone will be filled with photos! As complete family photo will be taken, printed and framed to update our living room walls, where over the year seems to be increasing! Alhamdulillah. However, what I have noticed throughout the years, Hari Raya are only celebrated for the first few days of Syawal in Malaysia and Indonesia, unlike in Brunei where it is celebrated for a whole month!
Eid is observed as a public holiday in certain provinces of China. Everyone from all religions gets a time off from work or school to celebrate. Even the toll roads are free of charge. Large crowds of Muslims gather in the mosques for the Eid prayers, and everyone greets their brothers and sisters with so much happiness.
Residents from the urban areas return to their rural homes to be together. Cash gifts are prepared for the children, and some families will have a slaughtered goat for their festivities. This season is also the time for families to visit the graves of their ancestors. Eid is the season for Muslims to have family reunions, feasts of breads, sweet pastries, meat, and dried and fresh fruit. A popular food is called sanzi, or deep fried noodles. Fried until crispy, and twisted into a conical shape like a pyramid.
United States of America
Although it is not a public holiday, it is still celebrated among the Muslims. Cities with large Muslim populations like Detroit in Michigan, Washington, D.C., New York and so on, would hold Eid bazaars selling gifts, souvenirs and Islamic books. Families will perform prayers at mosques, some even gathered in a baseball field and stadium to welcome syawal with the muslims community in the early morning!
Then, they would go out to eat at restaurants with their groups of families. It is quite common to go to amusement parks and carnivals as some families do not have large extended families to visit. Some families would prepare cookies, and to make it even more festive for the Eid celebration, they are in the shape of crescent moon and mosques.
Eid in Saudi Arabia is observed as a national holiday as well for three whole days. Houses will be cleaned and you could smell the pleasant aroma from the incense just before the festival. The kitchen smells great from the cooking the delicious Eid staples that can be found on every Saudi’s table for the family to eat in the morning of Eid day. The main dish is Al-Dibyaza, made up of dry fruits, sugar and water. Traditional sweets such as Harreesa, Labna and Allado are also added to the table.
Breakfast will be served once they’re back from Eid prayers and before eating, young children usually will be given money and exquisitely decorated gifts by the adults which may come from their parents, brothers, or even neighbours.
New dresses are tailored just for the occasion, family members: men, women and children are all eager to attend prayers which signifies the end of an entire month of fasting. It is a tradition to have a feast at the elderly such as the grandparents’, so the family members would stay on for lunch and dinner. Eid is special, especially for the children, as they would go out in their new dresses to the playgrounds scattered all over the city. Fireworks are watched by residents and you can just see the faces of the little ones gleaming with joy.
Muslims all around the world have different cultures and traditions to celebrate Eid, but what we all have in common is the forgiveness we seek for from our families and the time we are willing to spend more as a family. It’s a wonderful time for all of us and it is the time we all look forward to: the fireworks, food and reuniting with families.