Saturday, September 11, 2010

Living In Malaysia: Hari Raya

Hari Raya, the holiday at the end of Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month, started yesterday.  In Malaysia it's called Hari Raya but in most other places they say Eid ul-Fitr which is Arabic for end of Ramadan.

Apart from the prayers, it's a time where people visit their family and friends, eat too much, and generally have a good time.  Traditionally, you must also ask forgiveness from everyone so you can start the new year afresh.

There are 2 customs here in Malaysia that I haven't seen in Indonesia and my brother hasn't seen in Saudi Arabia.

First, there are fireworks and firecrackers going off all over the place.  I asked one of my pals why they were setting off bangers, and he said it was for good luck.  Now this is a Chinese New Year custom that started when villagers in old China chased away an evil monster called the Nien with firecrackers.  Today the bangs commemorate this and chase away bad luck and evil spirits in general.

Second, people hand out ang pows, little envelopes filled with money.  This is also a Chinese New Year custom.  However, the Chinese ang pows packets are red (because red is lucky and also the monster Nien was afraid of red) whereas the Muslim ang pow is green which symbolises paradise, and/or blue which is also auspicious.

Au and Target celebrated yesterday with a hole rost chikkun. But that's purely a family affair.

PS the card at the top is from Greetings 123. The ang pow packet below is an old one I picked up from somewhere.

16 comments:

photojoy said...

This is a lovely story and it is always fascinating to learn about different cultures and habits. When I visited my friend in Cairo, it was right at the time of Ramadan. It was a bit awkward his family only let me have meals during the day. Boy, they started eating right after the sunset! It was really a good relief to enjoy dinner all together.

Katnip Lounge said...

A "hole rost chikkun"!?! We Cats here think our Mommy needs to get cooking! We want one, too.

BeadedTail said...

It was interesting to learn more about Hari Raya. We especially like that you get "hole rost chikkun"!

The Chair Speaks said...

Aahh, Au and Target, you had chikkun for Raya celebration. Did your mom go visiting and tucking in the goodies?

Më| §zë said...

well, our cultures have been mixed and stirred and interlinked already... =] which is one of the things i love about my country...

btw, as the cats get a hole rost chikkun, my dog gets a chunk of boiled chicken... haha...

selamat hari raya aidilfitri...

Pam said...

Obviously Target and Au know the proper way to celebrate with the rost chikkun. I like the envelopes filled with money myself.

Inigo Flufflebum and d'Artagnan Rumblepurr said...

We are demanding the hole rost chikkun be celebrated here.

Hannah and Lucy said...

You had a whole roast chicken for yourselves - and we think we've done well if we share a chicken breast!!

sully86 said...

Maaf zahir dan batin.

wildcatwoodscats said...

We don't like the noises for firecrackers but the celebrations sound lovely.

Cat-in-Sydney said...

AU,
We give out (and receive) money packets Down Under too! Even Mama still gets an envelope from GrandDad. purrr....meow!

Gattina said...

I think it's very nice when a religion adopts the uses of another country. In Germany there had always been a big firework on New Years Eve as long as I can remember. In other European countries not. Since a few years it's going on in whole Europe. That was the same with the Christmas trees. This too was of German origin.

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

That's right! The Malay community adopted the Chinese custom of putting gift money in little envelopes. Before green angpows were available commercially, Malay children received 'duit raya' sans packet, so everyone knew how much each one received, and it was a bit sticky socially. Now even the Indian community has purple or blue angpow packets for Deepavali! In the East Coast, Malay children would carry lanterns, much like the cellophane Chinese lanterns, in the shape of crescent moons and five-sided stars, on the nights leading up to Hari Raya. We don't see that here in the west coast.

[izzie_heart]* said...

Er... Let me correct you on a few things.

I don't think the firecrackers and fireworks are for luck. Most of us just sets them off for the pure fun of it :)

And we've never really refer to the money given out as ang pow... Usually duit raya. Just the terms are different, but it's the same as ang pow.

I don't think that these traditions of Hari Raya have any basis in them like for the Chinese New Year, just that all the cultures have been mixed well and we get the best of every culture :)

Selamat Hari Raya!

Nani Rahayu said...

FYI, Aidil Fitri is not Muslim's New Year as Ramadhan is the 9th month in the Muslim calendar.

Au and Target said...

Hi Nani! I wrote "Hari Raya, the holiday at the end of Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month". I didn't say it's New Year.