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Starting afresh

Posted by: Phat Mama, 9-Sep-2010

It's the end of Ramadan. Tonight we celebrate the first day of Syawal. It's time to bring out the traditional pelita and lampu kelip-kelip and turn the house and the garden into fairyland. Well, not really actually. I was just imagining how Hari Raya would be (if I was still a kid), should be (if family reunions are still practised), or had been (when I was a chubby five-year-old and Dad was still alive).

A lot of things have changed in my life, within my family circle. Family members have drifted apart either through our careers or change in lifestyles and priorities. We do not keep in touch on a regular basis and those who do, do so via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, anything that's Internet-based. Sad but true.

I grew up understanding that Hari Raya meant getting new clothes, getting Duit Raya from my elders, stuffing myself with lots of Hari Raya biscuits and cakes and traditional dishes and lying in a heap on the floor when I was too stuffed to move. I understood too that I got all these because I had been a good girl and fasted throughout Ramadan.

The Eve of Hari Raya sees the last of the Ramadan spread for Buka Puasa.

But all these material things lose their significance as I grew older and having a career and making my own money. I buy new clothes every other week or month, has the liberty of enjoying Raya cookies at any time of the year because people practically sell them throughout the year and traditional dishes are sold in ready-to-cook sachets - instant ketupat minus the casing, instant lemang complete with santan and instant Kuah Kacang that you need to only heat in boiling water. Where IS the FUN?

We talk about lampu pelita and lampu kelip kelip but how do we remain fascinated when you've seen the malls during Christmas and iCity even? Suddenly your parents' 10-foot running lights aren't bright enough and it is too tedious refilling the lampu pelita with kerosene for at least two weeks into Hari Raya.

Do we still make the traditional ketupat in daun palas?

Visiting our neighbours and relatives used to be a much look-forward to event but these days everyone wants to sit in front of the idiot box and watch Astro or download the latest movie, reality and dance shows from the Internet. Having to talk to a live person has become tedious - smile (yawn), light banter (yawn), insincere praises (yawn), pretending to recognise a long lost cousin (yawn) whereas the idiot box, the computer, the Blackberry and iPhone don't really have faces or voices or talk back or recognise you as so-and-so's sons or daughters (clap, clap, clap).

What stays true of Ramadan and Raya for me?

That the word of God is always about being a good person. Someone who forgives and forgets. Someone who cares for the needy, the deprived, the lonely. That there is good in many things and that the bad only comes from the hate within us.

There's hope yet to a fresh start.

The end of Ramadan symbolises our triumph in staying away from temptations and the forbidden as taught in the Al-Quran throughout the holy month. Now that Syawal has arrived, it is time to start a new chapter in our life.

What remains unchanged for me is my wait for Malam Lailatul Qadar when it is said that the first ayat of the Al-Quran was sent down. I have some dreams, a lot of wishes, plenty of prayers. I'm hoping Allah is listening because I believe He listens.