Typical Malaysian Hari Raya things that happen during Raya

20 Apr 2023 06:00pm
Photo for representative purposes only. Photo: 123RF
Photo for representative purposes only. Photo: 123RF

You know Hari Raya is here when you see towns, cities, and shopping malls lit by ketupat and crescent moon-shaped fairy lights and people are stunningly well-dressed in traditional and modern 'baju Melayu' and 'baju kurung'.

Malaysians regardless of race, race, and religion will also share the joy of this festivity, let it be for the food, the classic Hari Raya rendition by Sharifah Aini and M. Nasir, or for the delicious rendang and lemang, or simply to enjoy the long holiday with family and friends.

Here are some of the things that are unique to Malaysians when celebrating Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

1. 'Balik kampung' traffic congestion

As Hari Raya Aidilfitri approaches, Muslims and non-Muslims are preparing for the long holiday. The roads are expected to be congested as the city dwellers leave for their hometowns and 'kampungs' to visit their families and relatives.

The roads from the Klang Valley heading towards the north, south, and east coast areas are forecasted to be packed with cars, as they have been every year.

Schoolchildren and working professionals are also given long holidays so that they could spend time with their families without thinking about their formal duties.

The government will usually advise people to plan their journey to avoid being stuck in traffic.

This year, PLUS Malaysia Berhad (PLUS) has issued recommendations on which highway users should avoid during the holiday season. According to PLUS, they expect as many as 2 million vehicles a day using the PLUS and LPT2 highways, which is equivalent to a 20 per cent increase compared to normal days.

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Peak times are expected to occur on April 20 to 21, April 24 to 25, April 29 to May 1, and May 4 to 7, 2023.

In order to reduce congestion, PLUS will also temporarily stop maintenance work on the highway from April 19 to May 1.

2. Longstanding tradition of open houses

A Raya 'open house' is organised during the month of Syawal, where Muslims will invite visitors of all religions, races, and cultures to come and visit them.

They would also be able to enjoy the wide spread of traditional food served by their host.

The open-house tradition will go on for the full month throughout the month of Syawal.

Open-house hosts will prepare plenty of food for guests, alongside duit raya for children, and the house will usually be filled with laughter and chit chat as they reminisce about past experiences.

During the month of Syawal, weekends for Malaysians will be packed with open house invitations from family members, friends, and colleagues.

3. Hari Raya songs all day long

Radio listeners and consumers will be soothed by tunes that are evergreen and familiar to younger generations.

People from all age groups will be singing soulful melodies throughout the festive season.

Together with the delicious food, 'duit Raya' and the 'open house' tradition, these melodious renditions make the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration so special.

4. Endless Raya OOTDs (outfits of the day)

During Hari Raya, we could see people getting dressed up to the nines without wearing different outfits each day.

The Muslim community, celebrating Hari Raya, will be dressed up in their best Raya attire, where each family will have a specific theme colour, mainly to take family photographs that will be shared on social media.

5. Roadside 'lemang' stalls

As Hari Raya approaches, rows of lemang stalls by the roadside always attract people to buy some tasty lemangs to go with the delicious rendang. Lemang is undeniably a must-have food on the menu during the Raya period.

People nowadays prefer to buy instead of make food due to time constraints and lacked ingredients.

The increased demand for lemang during Raya makes it a hot commodity where people could easily buy it on their way back to their 'kampungs'.

6. Klang Valley roads become empty

The only time to witness deserted roads in the Klang Valley would probably be during Hari Raya.

As people who are working in the city leave for their hometowns to celebrate Hari Raya, the roads in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor will be empty.

The usual peak-hour journey, which will take one to two hours, will probably be a smooth 15–20 minutes.

This is the only time for Kuala Lumpur residents to enjoy the city by going to the malls or nearby parks, with very few cars on the road.

7. Free and discounted tolls

It is a norm for the government to give free and discounted toll fares to the people to ease their 'balik kampung' journey during Hari Raya.

Last year, the prime minister announced highway toll exemptions and discounts involving the PLUS Malaysia-operated North-South Expressway, as well as the Anih Berhad (ANIH)-operated East Coast Expressway.

Toll charges were discounted at rates between 30 and 50 per cent on other highways in the country, applicable to all vehicle classes during the festive season.

Travelers often sing praise for these concessions, as they reduce travel costs, especially for those who travel far.

8. Afternoon nap after all the 'rendang'

After a tiring morning of attending prayers at mosques and entertaining family and guests, one would look forward to a good afternoon nap to prepare the body for the next round of entertaining.

Hence, the afternoon nap is just what every Malaysian needs to replenish for more Raya celebrations and food afterward.

"Man, that Raya afternoon nap hits a different spot," say many netizens of the joy of an afternoon nap after downing all the good food.

The celebration will usually continue later in the evening, with more houses to visit and food to feast on.

9. 'Duit Raya' for kids and the kids at heart.

One of the littlest joys in life during the Hari Raya celebration as a kid is the number of duit raya packets we get to collect.

Adults look forward to the joy of giving rather than the joy of receiving.

Duit Raya is a tradition anticipated by many children, with some seeing it as a reward for fasting during Ramadan.

For adults, 'duit raya' is often deemed as almsgiving for a rewarding Syawal month.