Here In My Home - Malaysian Artistes For Unity

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Remembering Raya Pasts!

As today is the last weekend for the Hari Raya Open House season and also Diwali for our Indian friends, I guess its time for me to comment a bit on what is written in this article reminiscing on how we celebrated Hari Raya in the past. I guess this is more poignant for me as I have just lost my uncle and godfather who acted as my surrogate father for my absentee parents in Ipoh who usually helped us get prepared for the festivals before they returned home for the holidays.

One practise that seems to be dying out is the lighting of oil lamps or Panjut in Malay that usually starts on Malam Tujuh Likur, or the the 27th Ramadhan night, that is usually associated with Lailatul Qadr night in Malay society. Back in Ipoh, I remember going around Kampong Manjoi where the villagers had an ongoing tradition of "panjut wars" where they famously had different neighbourhoods coming together to come up with oil lamp displays made of bamboo, wood and of course oil lamps that can rival any Christmas light display with the twinkling commercial crap. It was a great sight to behold the villagers creative arches of twinkling lights like fireflies flickering in the night that came from oil lamps, with an ethereal glow from the smoke. I am not sure if this practise continues as after a few years our family ourselves gave up on this practise as it is actually quite difficult nowadays to purchase the needed kerosen to light up the lamps.

Another practise that I feel has become a memory is the exchange of cookie platters between the households in the neighbourhood, regardless of race that was practised not only during Hari Raya but in all the major festivals. It was great to receive the trays of peanut cookies, Menglembu ground nuts, murukku and Ladhoo during Chinese New and Diwali, but the greatest anticipation was when the cookie platter either in tiffin, trays or plastic containers were returned and was opened. The minimum you could expect is some sugar as it was considered impolite to return an empty container, but your eyes twinkled when the neighbour with the favoured cookies returned it fully ladened with the same as you could now indulge,that you could not do during the house visit as politeness dictates. But then I guess this practise has now evolved where instead of exchanging such cookie trays, you now brought them to the office to be offered at your desk or the pantry for your colleagues to partake in.

There are other practises that include open houses as it was done then where the house was thrown open to visitors at any time instead of an appointed day nowadays that I would like to write about, but god willing let those be the written when the next Hari Raya comes around.

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