It is estimated that no less than 10k Malaysians will be celebrating this year’s Hari Raya Aidilfitri in the foreign lands.
I still remember my first Raya abroad in 1997 when I had to celebrate the first day of Aidilfitri in my classroom, wearing a Baju Melayu and Songkok. There were no rendang, ketupat and dodol. What more duit raya or firecrackers!
But being Malaysian, we are quite good at entertaining ourselves during this “sentimental period”. Here are the top 10 most popular activities which Malaysian would definitely not want to miss during their Hari Raya celebration abroad.
10. Baju Raya set from Kampung
My other half has always been very good at this since we got married.
Prior to the marriage, when I was alone studying in Japan, wearing a plain Baju Melayu with a Songkok would be enough. The only downside is that the awkward feeling you have to bear while wearing those traditional suits in the classroom. But, it is also a good opportunity for you to explain to your friends about the celebration!
Over here in Glasgow, we have celebrated the Eid with local Muslims quite a number of times. We are fortunate that the quality of technology and logistics nowadays is far better compared to the 90s. During those days, we had to wait for weeks to get a letter from a family member. What more to get a parcel of Baju Raya?
9. Cooking some favorite Malay dishes
Malaysian regardless of race or religion background are always excited to celebrate Hari Raya abroad. The main reason to this is food! The students or expat with family members are really good at cooking super-licious food, but the singles are not going to be underestimated! Some even make their own dodol, I wonder how did they do that? Probably they have brought it from Malaysia?
8. Send “Salam Perantau” Messages via Newspapers
This is one of the most popular activities prior to Hari Raya for Malaysians living abroad especially in the 80s and 90s era. During those days, the Hari Raya programs on TV would never miss the slot for Malaysians abroad sending their wishes.
I had also experienced this with some friends during our first Raya abroad in 1997. We were so jakun because it was a big trend at that time to send the “Salam Perantau” message to newspapers back home. So we took a picture of ourselves holding a Malaysian flag (to prove that we are Malaysians as if people would not know!) then we sent it to Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian.
In today’s world, this is no longer a trend but it remains a tradition among Malaysian who are living abroad. This is because there are still some family members who are not that tech savvy to open a Facebook or an Instagram account. That’s why this is still popular amongst Malaysians living abroad.
7. Listening to Hari Raya Songs
Songs like “Balik Kampung” or “Dendang Perantau” will always be the most important selection that Malaysians like to listen to during Hari Raya. According to some scholars, it is not a problem for Muslims to listen to these traditional Raya songs as long as they observe their ibadahs closely (in the month of Ramadhan) according to the teachings of Islam.
Malaysians nowadays are lucky to get the internet access. In the past, we had to bring the original cassettes or CDs from Malaysia. The good thing is that we would come together in the kitchen and listen to the songs while cooking some rendang and kuah kacang ourselves!
6. Applying for Off Day from the University or Employer
Students and expats would have to apply for off-day in advance to avoid being stuck in the classroom or workplace during the first day of Raya. However, there are some cases where Malaysians “ponteng” their classes or day job because of their own weaknesses especially when thinking about the delicious rendang and ketupat Raya! I do not know exactly whether they have to bring back some for their colleagues or professors at the university, but obviously, this is the most important item in the list you cannot miss.
5. Call the Family on the Raya Day
In the past, Malaysians abroad would have to queue up to talk to their family members. They normally used public phones (at the college hostels) or some of them had to apply some kind of tricks.
The trick is to call using a “reverse charge” method. The “reverse charge” call is when you just spend a pennyworth of call to an operator, whom later would have to call your family member at home, asking if they could agree to a “reverse charge”.
Normally, the family members would be more than happy to accept, unless if you are going to ask their permission to get married!
4. Attend the Open Houses
Malaysians here are good at keeping the tradition alive! They’d continue to celebrate the Eid like how we normally do at kampung-kampung in Malaysia. However, considering the costs and spaces, Malaysians here are happy to oblige to another gentlemen understanding. We call it a “pot luck” concept where all parties bring their portion of food and have them together with the rest.
3. Take a lot of pictures
Nowadays, selfie or wefie is also a major trend not only among Malaysians living abroad but also for all Malaysians who are celebrating the Eid. It is exciting to see a lot of pictures being uploaded over the social media for sharing the happiness and beautiful moment with friends and relatives.
There will be no “happy raya” for any of us without a nice DSLR camera or the latest Samsung S8 in hand. So, don’t forget to say, “Cheese please!”
2. Visit the Malaysian Hall or local Malaysian community organised Raya Celebration
The event called Raya Gathering or Malaysian Hall Open House event is considered as the most “waited for event” all year round, especially in the city where the majority of Malaysians reside. Big cities like London or Tokyo should be able to organize such event for the students or expats over there, but not for Malaysians who are living in smaller cities like Aberdeen or Sendai.
1. Attend the Solat Raya and Pay Zakat Fitrah at the local Mosque
This is the most important part. Regardless where you are, Raya prayer (or Solat Aidilfitri) is considered to be very important and sacred. Muslims all over the world would never miss this event during the Eid day, what more Malaysians.
Here in Glasgow, we are blessed to have so many mosques in the city where we can attend the congregation together. Alhamdulillah!