Celebrating Hari Raya Puasa 2015 in Malaysia

Hari Raya celebrations in Malaysia

Commonly known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Hari Raya Puasa or Hari Raya Idul Fitri in Malaysia. Puasa means “fasting” and refers to the month of fasting known as Ramadan 2015, which comes before Idul Fitri. During the month of Ramadan, fasting is compulsory and requires Muslims to abstain from having any basic needs or urges every day between sunrise and sunset. It is considered one of the five tenets of Islam just like the paying of zakat or alms tax for the poor, which has to be tithed by the end of Ramadan.

When the new moon is seen on the last day of Ramadan in Malaysia by the state appointed religious officials, the fasting ends and if the following day the crescent is seen, that day is declared the first day of Aidilfitri, which signifies the beginning of the ten month Muslim calendar Syawal. This first day of Aidilfitri is celebrated by the Muslim community by gathering at mosques for morning prayers. People dress in their best traditional attire to mark the occasion, with men in their Baju Melayu and women in their Baju Kurung. After prayers, it is home to have breakfast with family and then a trip to the cemetery to clean the graves of deceased loved ones and offer prayers to Allah.

This time is also meant to forgive and forget past quarrels and forgiveness is done in order of seniority. It begins with the youngest family members going to their elders to ask forgiveness to salam, which is the Muslim equivalent of a handshake, then they kiss the hands of the elder as a sign of respect. The greeting given during the salam or handshake during Aidilfitri is “Selamat Hari Raya” meaning, “Wishing you a joyous Hari Raya.”

The elderly and children are given gifts of money or duit raya, in small envelopes but recently, some givers have chosen to adopt the Chinese practice of placing money in ang pow packets, but rather than the usual red color, the packets are green.