Eid-ul Fitr is a day of victory for Muslims all over the world to commemorate the end of Ramadan. In Malaysia, it’s referred to as Hari Raya Aidilfitri and it is a truly joyous occasion filled with festive cheer and merriment.
Eid is meant to be a time of celebration and spending quality time with family and friends. Nearly the whole country takes a week off to go back to their hometown known as ‘balik kampung’. Major highways and roads will tend to be congested and this is one time that Kuala Lumpur has no traffic jams, but the rest of the country does.
The festive atmosphere felt throughout Ramadan reaches its peak on the first day of Eid-ul Fitr. Typically, Malaysians would wear traditional clothes, called ‘Baju Melayu’ for the men and ‘Baju Kurung’ for the women. Homes are decorated elaborately and intricately to welcome the occasion. They would start the day with performing eid prayers at the mosque. After prayers, they would proceed to visit the graves of departed loved ones.
One key tradition is seeking forgiveness from family members. The working adult would give younger members of the family a sum of money, known as ‘duit raya’, as an act of sadaqah(giving). People visit others and spend time with family and friends throughout the day, often exchanging gifts.
No Hari Raya would be complete without delicious food and desserts typically offered at the ‘open houses’.
The most unique thing during Hari Raya in Malaysia is the long-standing tradition of ‘open houses’ held in almost residence. Malaysian invite their family and friends to their home. They gather and make lavish spreads of their favourite and most decadent foods.
Traditional delicacies typically served for Hari Raya are ketupat (compressed rice cakes encased in woven coconut leaves), rendang (a spicy and aromatic dish made of meat, chilli paste, coconut milk, grounded coconut and spices), dodol (sticky, soft, toffee-like sweet), satay (skewered meat) and spicy peanut sauce and lemang (glutinous rice with coconut milk cooked in hollowed bamboo sticks lined with banana leaves).
It is also common to see cookie jars filled with various types of biscuits and cakes that come in different shapes and tastes, known as ‘kuih raya’.
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