Bright colourful lights strung like garlands over fences and balconies. Ashy scents filter through the night’s breeze as remnants of fireworks that shot through the dark sky fell like illuminating confetti. Excited giggles of children heard as they trod over from house to house to complete their goal of collecting all the envelopes containing a few bank notes inside.
Once a familiar scenario now seems like a far off memory.
The Aidilfitri celebration is slowly beginning to lose its spark in my eyes and the excitement that surged through my younger self as the festive day approached is long gone. Shopping for new clothes to don for Raya has been replaced with being content on just re-wearing ones that are already in the closet.
But the biggest part that I have lost enthusiasm for is the concept of going back to my hometown for Hari Raya, and seeing as how my relatives are rarely ever there as well, I figure I’m not the only feeling so.
The Hari Raya vibe has dwindled severely over the past few years and I can practically hear my younger self gasping in shock.
So this year to break the norm of simply just remaining in Kuala Lumpur for this celebration, my family and I decided to step out and do something we’ve never done before, which is to travel for Raya. With the day of my flight approaching, the nostalgic feeling begins to seep back in and I realize why I prefer travelling for Raya than going the traditional way of ‘balik kampung’.
A New Adventure
I admit, I suffer from severe wanderlust which has led me to travel to multiple countries. Part of the reason travelling fuels my excitement is the idea of being exposed to wonders of culture which we may not be accustomed to. So when it comes to travelling during a national celebration, the anticipation starts to build and a refreshed sense of excitement overwhelms me at the prospect of flying off to another country altogether to celebrate something I usually stay in my home for.
A new adventure helps broaden your mind to the endless possibilities on how Hari Raya can be celebrated. Traditional values and beliefs may have laid down the norm on what is usually done but nothing restricts you from trying something new for this holiday. Aidilfitri is a celebration Muslims all over the world acknowledge so I’m prepared to see what awaits me by taking flight for Raya.
Seeing Through Different Eye
Each country in this world has its own culture attached to it and each country has a list of their own celebrations that’s nationally rejoiced for. So although a certain occasion may be a widely known holiday in your country, that may not be the case when you enter into foreign lands. Especially when you step out from being the majority and be grouped into the small circle of the minority.
Trying to celebrate a Muslim holiday where the religion is not as vastly spread will definitely open up my eyes to a fresh experience. I won’t be able to see ‘Lemang’ stalls being set up every few kilometers at the side of roads. I wouldn’t be able to hear the sound of Azan greeting the morning of Raya and beckoning us all for prayers. I would most likely get a few weird looks when foreigners see me don my ‘baju kurung’.
But all of that does little to scare me than it does more to hype me up for this experience.
Although I may not be surrounded by the traditional norm of what Hari Raya usually brings, I will be happy to say that I got to see how it’s like celebrated with a close knit community of Muslims from all over the world gathering in one foreign country and will do their best to create the Raya spirit. There may even be non-Muslim foreigners intrigued by this celebration which would be a great way to expose our culture for them to learn. Sharing is caring after all.
Not About The Destination
It really isn’t. I used to believe that part of the reason why returning to my hometown when I was younger thrilled me a lot was because of the location itself. Hailing from the north side of Malaysia, going back to Penang has always been more for special occasions and not really something I did on a daily basis. Which is why I treasured the moments dearly whenever we would prepare for the 4-hour drive over to my grandparents house.
But at this age in my life, I realized that is not the case. It wasn’t the location exactly that made me excited, it was the act itself. The travelling part was what made me jittery while the destination played more of a secondary role. Cruising down the highways with Raya songs blaring on the radio, stocking up on traditional Raya snacks to eat in the car, looking outside of the window and seeing the familiar paddy fields greet me. It’s all these senses combined that made me enjoy the ‘Balik Kampung’ experience rather than reaching the destination itself.
And now I feel that same experience again, though this time it won’t be a 4-hour car drive but an 8-hour flight instead. I won’t be hearing that Penang dialect greet me but will hear the foreign accent of Australians welcoming me to their country. But what remains constant is that warm feeling of seeing family greet you after long hours of travelling, ready for a long week of happy bonding moments and overall bliss.
That, in my opinion, is what makes Hari Raya exciting again.
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