Hari Raya 06

Selamat hari raya, Eid Mubarak to all, fashionably late as usual. Hari Raya was last week, but I’m still just getting over all the festivities. Eid in Malaysia is hugely different from Eid back home. Back home, it would be morning prayers followed by donuts outside the mosque, dinner with friends in the evening and back to work the next day.
Here it is basically a solid month of frantically running around visiting everyone on earth who you know before the cakes and ketupat run out. Many people spend the whole of Ramadan getting their homes ready for the endless visits that will come pouring in. People string lights or set out kerosene lamps. People order 2 or 3 or more pairs of new clothes. It is a very merry occassion.

Now some of my muslim readers might scoff and say that such extravagant displays go against the spirit of the holiday, and to some extent it’s true. Many people spend more than they can afford to, or devote more time to the holiday to come than to the fasting and worship of Ramadan that is the purpose for the holiday in the first place.

But I don’t complain about that much, for one big reason. My children love Ramadan and Hari Raya. It’s exciting, enjoyable and memorable for them, as compared to back home, where it passed by quickly and, all things considered, they preferred Hanukah. Presents from Grandma for eight days straight: it’s hard to beat.

Hari Raya for the kids is kind of like a month of trick-r-treating, except instead of just knocking on doors to collect their loot, they have to go inside, engage in polite conversation for twenty minutes and kiss their host’s hand before they can collect their envelopes with a few ringgit in it. I think that custom is wonderful for building neighborliness and children who can socialize with adults. There must be 60 or 70 children under the age of 15 in our subdivision, and I know all their names, their fathers’ names, what school they go to, what grade they’re in and where their house is, because they have to come in, munch a cookie and tell me all that before I’ll let them go with their money.
Those are holiday shots of the kids, of course, interspersed with the post. I’ve got more to say about the holidays, and more pictures too, but I better post this now before another month and a half flies by. Hoping your fasting and eid were happy ones, and may Allah accept them from us, Amin.

Eid Mubarak, Selamat Hari Raya

Two, three cat running
Not the same dog running
Two, three day more raya coming
Everything is ready huh??

Pandan Island far-far in the middle
Daik Mountain has three branches
During Ramadhan everybody struggles
So during Syawal don’t spoil the chances

Jump frog jump
Jump high-high
What knowledge u try
Ketupat rendang very delicious

High-high were the sun
Buffalo kid dead in tied
10 finger hamba susunkan
Fault & mistaken harap dimaafkan

A friend forwarded this to me just before raya. It is in the Malay poetical style of pantun; the first couplet establishes the rhythm and strikes an image, often totally unrelated to the second couplet, which delivers the meaning. It reads almost like a direct translation except for the malay in the last couplet, which would be “Your servant holds ten fingers together/ begging forgiveness of faults and mistakes.”


Eid amidst the coconuts

Miniature chickens or <em>ayam serama</em>
Miniature chickens or ayam serama

The kids had a great time for Eid. We all flew back to West Malaysia to my wife’s village, just got back last night.. It was the first time my wife had been there for Eid in 8 years, and my first time ever. The kids got along great with all their cousins and second cousins, and were spoiled
rotten by all their uncles and aunties. All 7 of my mother-in-law’s children came back this year. She was very very happy. She has 10 grandkids now and 12 step-grandkids. I’m finally getting fluent enough with Bahasa to keep track of what’s going on in the family, and beginning to really remember all my cousins-in-law. My wife must have first cousins in the triple digits. The custom here is to go visiting neighbors after the
eid, to have tea and snacks and then move on the next house. Kids are given a little bit of money from everyone they visited. Long cleared 55 RM. He was a little avaricious banker by the time it was all over, counting and recounting his money in the corner of our room.

The worst incident of the whole trip was when KakNgah got attacked by our neighbor’s rooster. He’s lived next door all his life, knew my wife’s late father very well. He’s also a distant cousin. Well, he likes to keep chickens, and they peck and scratch in our yard too. One old rooster is a little daft, and the d*mn thing attacked KakNgah. Luckily she had the good sense to turn around and run, so she was only pecked on her back and arm. But the bites ripped her shirt and drew blood. This would all be terrible
on its own, but the worst thing is, this all happened to Long three years ago! The same damn rooster! At the time, back in 2000, we were quite upset of course, but since it had never happened to anyone, we just let it lie. Then it attacked my three year old nephew a little while later, after we went back to the US. That was the last I heard about it, and I just assumed the rooster had wound up in the stock pot after it’s second offense. But in fact, the rooster was spared. Then it attacked our neighbor’s own grandson and tagged him right above the eye. His son-in-law demanded the chicken’s death but our neighbor would not relinquish the bird, claiming it was good
luck. The son-in-law took his wife and kid and has not been back. Well, I was furious, but social ettiquette just would not allow raging at the old man, and besides, if he denied his own grandson justice, he certainly wouldn’t grant it to me. So I plotted to kill the rooster. If it was dead and gone, I could simply apologize and he would have to accept. But I failed. I had a good go at it with a machete, and several times with a
slingshot, but I couldn’t bag it. After every failed attempt, it would crow upon reaching safety. Sometimes, when it was in the yard, it would see KakNgah and crow some more. What a cock.