Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ramadan 2012

My first Ramadan in a Muslim country was insightful. The Muslims would fast for sun-up until sundown, then break the fast with nightly feasts. For some, this meant adjusted working hours that allowed them to leave the office earlier to avoid the traffic jam. For me, it was about sensitivity towards those who were fasting (don't eat in front of them or be more discreet about drinking). Although I prefer the Catholic form of fasting that at least allowed crackers and water (eating a large meal at night doesn't sound that healthy), fasting is a habit that is good for the spirit.

Like Christmas, Raya means flashing lights and decor like ketupat (think puso from Cebu, rice wrapped in woven palm leaves) and greetings of "Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri".

There are Raya commercials, Raya songs, Raya deals in stores, and cultural presentations like these at Suria KLCC for the whole month.

One thing that struck me is the fondness for the kampung, the humble village. All the LRT stations had simple dining spreads at the entrances. Would you think about displaying a rusty roof with a rubber tire in the middle of the mall? It's quite nostalgic.

I enjoyed going to two pasar ramadhans, markets that would sell special food from the afternoons till early evenings for people to take home and eat with their families. There's always more food than you can finish!

It was also nice to dress up in traditional Malay attire in the office without anybody scratching their heads. Wouldn't it be nice to wear Filipiniana in the office once a year?

Raya is also the time when many people take extended holidays. The only thing I missed is the open house where people invite you to break the fast with them at home. Hope I'll catch that next year.

Even though Ramadan is over, the mood isn't quite back to work yet--there's another long weekend coming up for Independence Day. Time to paint!

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