Saturday, September 11, 2010

Eid-ul-Fitr: A time of great rejoicing

Yesterday was Eid-ul-Fitr, the first day of Shawwal, which marked the end of Ramadan.

Muslims in Malaysia celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr or Hari Raya Aidil Fitri in true Malaysian fashion: holding open house to spread the festive joy with friends and colleagues from the different ethnic groups.

It's always open house at the homes of most Malaysians during major festivals. It is a well-established tradition in Malaysia.

Believers had gathered in mosques all over Malaysia on Friday morning to offer the Eid-ul-Fitr prayers.

After prayers they exchanged greetings by saying "Selamat Hari Raya (Happy Eid)" and asked for forgiveness for any wrongdoing they had done.

Then it was time to welcome guests to their homes. For some the open house is held later in the month of Shawwal when Malaysians continue to engage in festivities until the very end.

This is because they want to focus on other things on the first few days of Shawwal such as visiting graveyards to pay their respects for the departed and reuniting with family members in other parts of the country or balik kampung as Malaysians call it.

Traditional and modern delicacies sit happily together on the Eid-ul-Fitr culinary table. The staples include rendang, lemang and ketupat.

Many say Eid-ul-Fitr is for children who expect new clothes, the customary Eid-ul-Fitr cash gifts (or duit Raya in Malaysia) and special food on the table.

Even parents who were not in the festive mood due to a variety of reasons tried their best to inject enthusiasm into the Eid-ul-Fitr preparations during Ramadan because they wanted to make their offspring happy.

Believers fell prostrate in worship during Eid-ul-Fitr prayers held in mosques throughout Malaysia on Friday morning, the first day of Shawwal. Picture courtesy of New Straits Times.

Children visit their elders on the first day of Shawwal to ask for forgiveness. The best part of this ritual is the Eid-ul-Fitr cash gift which all youngsters look forward to receiving. Picture courtesy of New Straits Times.

This teenager in Malacca is about to leave after visiting his neighbours (and receiving duit Raya from them) yesterday. He dropped in on them with a group of friends. This is a typical scene in Malaysia during the month of Shawwal.

The rear of the teenager's bicycle is cleverly fitted with a spare part from an abandoned motorcycle. His friends think his vehicle looks pretty cool with that fixture.

Lemang stalls such as this one dot Malaysian trunk roads during most of Shawwal. Lemang is made from a mixture of glutinous rice and coconut milk that is very slowly cooked in a bamboo stick lined with banana leaves. It is best eaten with rendang and both dishes are must-have on the  Eid-ul-Fitr menu. Picture courtesy of New Straits Times.

Picture shows ketupat palas (left), glutinous packed rice in English, and it is usually served with a savoury meat dish such as rendang tok (right), a spicy beef dish from the state of Perak.

Cookies and cakes complete the wide array of Eid-ul-Fitr food. 

This delicious strawberry cheesecake makes a great centrepiece of  the Eid-ul-Fitr huge spread.

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