(Belated) Selamat Hari Raya!

I just came back from an open house at my aunty’s place today, so I want to argue that it’s not too late to write a nice short post about hari raya. To my non-Malaysian friends, hari raya—or raya for short—is what we call Eid here (though, directly translated, hari just means day and raya kinda means general celebration).

I am thankful for getting to spend raya back home in Malaysia. Raya fell on a Sunday and I was in Philly until Friday morning (and didn’t even buy my tickets until the Monday before that), which meant I arrived literally the night before raya. Though, I guess you could say I arrived just as hari raya started, since the month of Syawal actually starts at sundown but we’re getting a bit too technical here. I stayed in the US solely because I was waiting for my work authorisation to be approved before I could leave and alhamdulillah, by the grace of God, it got approved just in time. I was told it would get approved at the latest by July 12th, and considering how late in the process I applied, it wouldn’t be unusual at all for it to have taken the full processing time so I was already prepared to have to spend raya in the states for the first time. But then I got it approved about 3 weeks early! I am very confident that this was only possible because of how hard everyone was praying for me to come home for raya and I am so overcome by God’s mercy.

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Me at KLIA just after I arrived with puffy eyes from passing out on my flight from Doha. I sometimes use Snapchat to chronicle my 25-hour journey back home and this year, it was with an abnormal amount of newfound Penn pride, apparently.

So yeah, I arrived on Saturday night (and, if you follow me on Instagram, know that I did my usual stop-by-at-McDonalds-on-the-way-home thing!!). On Sunday, we spent the first raya morning in Klang with my dad’s family, as usual, because they’re nearest to where we live. We also had a small 1st birthday celebration for my “niece” (inverted commas because she’s actually my cousin’s baby so not really my niece I guess?), Amelia. Food was good, family time was good, and it was just an all round really good day.

Oh, and I should mention that no one outside of my immediate family knew I was coming home for raya! That made it extra exciting for me, although no one was particularly amused when they saw me that day because I already surprised everyone by coming home early for summer last year so they kinda expected it, lol. Still, I enjoy the look of happy surprise on everyone’s faces, and it was totally worth blocking all my cousins and other family members on Snapchat/Instagram for a couple of days, haha. One of my aunties was a little annoyed because I think she wished I would’ve spared her all the times she spent feeling down about the fact that I wasn’t going to taste her prawn briyani (which she knows I love). Hehe, oops. In my defense, it was totally my dad’s idea.

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My family

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My sisters and me, wearing my baju kurung from 4 years ago because I didn’t even have a new one for this year!

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Me with some of my cousins

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Almost the whole family on my dad’s side

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My friends Ken and May May, and Ken’s parents came to my aunty’s house for raya as well, which was so much fun!

In the evening on the first day, we usually fly off to Kuching (which is on East Malaysia, unreachable via land from the Peninsula, where I live (lol it’s funny explaining all of these things I take for granted, but you know, I never know who’s reading)) where my mum’s side of the family lives. My grandparents were especially happy to see me, which of course made me happy. The only thing was, I was kinda jet lagged. I thankfully slept through the previous night, but it was only because I was tired from travelling. I fell asleep at about 9-ish that night? I could still hear the sound of guests chatting and I hadn’t even changed out of my baju kurung, but I just couldn’t take it anymore. That happened again the next night, though a little bit later in the night… and honestly, that was kind of the extent of my jet lag, which is kind of impressive!

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Some of the parents and my grandparents on my mum’s side

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Almost all my cousins and my grandparents on my mum’s side

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My family waving us goodbye as we head out to the airport on the third day of raya

I usually go to Kuching once a year, so when we’re there we do some visiting, though significantly less so these days. We also try to squeeze in some time to buy kek lapis (layered cakes!) and mi kolok, which are the local goodies, since we’re not there very often. But this year, I’m not interning or anything in the summer so my sisters and I are making another visit in August, which should be fun! I haven’t made a trip to Kuching during non-raya season in a while and I’m excited to go to all the (food) places that are closed during raya.

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Other than that, this year’s raya has been relatively quiet, I think. I haven’t really gone to any open houses other than my family’s. If you’re not Malaysian, open houses are… I don’t know how to explain… these things where people just cook a lot of food and invite a lot of people over for the occasion and people do it throughout the entire month of Syawal—the month in the Islamic calendar when Eid takes place—so that they get to celebrate raya with as many people as possible I guess? We did dress up until day 4 though, which is pretty standard for us but some people really go all out with it.

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I got inventive and re-wore the top I wore to commencement with my sister’s baju kurung skirt

And that’s about it! To all my Muslim friends, belated-ish Eid Mubarak, I hope you all had a lovely one. I genuinely love seeing pictures of all my friends’ raya celebrations—the food, the dresses, the family pictures—it’s literally my favourite time of year to be on Instagram and Snapchat, haha. Also, in Malaysia, we ask for forgiveness during hari raya, so maaf zahir dan batin! Until next time ❤

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