Hari Raya Open House

After a whole month of fasting , the Muslim community around the world celebrates “Hari Raya” with joyous family gathering. In Malaysia, the muslims celebrates with “open houses” too.

The open house or rumah terbuka tradition is unique to Malaysia and everyone from the Prime Minister down hosts open house ,especially during major festivals and celebrations like the Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Chinese New Year and Christmas.

During the month of Syawal, many Muslims open the doors of their homes to welcome visitors irrespective of creed, culture and position to participate in the rejoicing. Traditional delicacies and local favourites like ketupat (rice wrapped in coconut leaves), peanut sauce and rendang (a dry spicy beef dish) are served. Large scale open houses, like those organized by political figures are announced via the mass media and are held at venues big enough to hold colossal events. Visitors attending the open houses during scheduled times, not only to eat and have fun, but to meet the country’s leaders. Tourists are also welcomed to such events.

I came back from Kuala Lumpur on the 2nd, hoping to visit a few Malay friends during Hari Raya. However, I only came to know that there was an invitation from the Sultan of Perak on the first day of Hari Raya. On that day, the Mayor, his advisor and myself left for Malaysia at six in the morning. The invitation was extended to VIPs only and three of us were the only guests from Thailand.

When we arrived at the palace, we were led to a grand hall. The hall was very big and there were more than three hundred guests. I found the women, Malay or Chinese, were wearing the traditional Malay costumes with shawls. I was a little embarrassed initially but then relieved as I found there were a few women wearing western dress too. I wore a milky long dress with a pink coat, which was too lady-like and looked too young for the occasion!

Malay women in their traditional costume-Baju Kurung/Another type of traditional costume-Baju Kebaya(Can you see the difference?!)

The gentlemen/The long queue

The Sultan and his wife and also, the Chief Minister and his wife, stood and were greeted by the long queue of well-wishers. It was very simple, just bow a little, shake hands and say “Selamat Hari Raya”(Happy New Year). According to the mayor, the protocol was much more simpler than in Thailand.

There was a lunch reception after that and there were eleven stalls serving variety of foods, including Japanese, Malay, Western and Chinese foods. It was really a sumptuous lunch and all the dishes were very delicious!

In Betong, I went to a few fast breaking dinner reception and there were only men. The mayor told me that the Muslims in Malaysia were more “modern” as we can find the women and men mixing around naturally, greeting, chatting, joking, shaking hands…

Sultan and others stood in front of the plants to be greeted/Lunch seats for the Sultan and Chief Minister

The luncheon/Open house hosted by Chief Minister of Perak State, would be started in 3:00pm, we came after lunch to send the Hari Raya gift and left.

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