Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Balik kampung: Yes or No?



The upcoming Eid-ul-Fitr celebration is a major event which takes many Muslims back to the family home. It is arguably the most important social reunion because it  allows returnees to reconnect either with family members or long-time friends in the old hometown.

Such events are called balik kampung in Malaysia and mudik lebaran in Indonesia. The other opportunities for such gatherings are funerals, religious festivals and ceremonies.

It is usually an emotional reunion between the returnees and their loved ones. After being apart for some time  -- years in the case of some -- they are coming together to honour the first day of Syawal. As they greet each other, their eyes fill with tears. You feel the affection and tenderness.

But life is never neat and tidy. Many of us have had to deal with meddling relatives and/or unresolved family conflicts. Unsurprisingly, the prospect of a family reunion fills some with dread. The interaction may unleash pent-up frustration and the scary scenario is partly to blame for the fear. The solution to the dilemma is to skip gatherings or occasions that bring the family together. Better safe than sorry seems to be the prevailing philosophy.

Research confirms the above. Four out of five people have attended a "miserable" family reunion, according to a study conducted by VitalSmarts and the authors of the New York Times bestseller, Crucial Conversations.

And the findings show that "it's almost inevitable that bad behaviour will surface at your next family gathering".

The three most common complaints are "bad attitudes and grumpy relatives", "cold wars between relatives who dislike and avoid one another" and "conflict between relatives who don't get along".

If you are feeling a little afraid at the thought of joining your relatives in the old hometown for the Eid-ul-Fitr celebration, click here for tips.

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