Surviving Hari Raya

Hari Raya means Eid. I used to love and look forward to it when I was a kid. As an adult, not so much. Worry not, I have survived the initial stage i.e. the day before and the first few days after. This is when the preparation is most intense, the crowds that come to visit our house is never-ending and the heat is unbearable.

Our family typically celebrates Raya at my grandparents’ house (the kampong).

Ever since I could remember, my Raya has always been at this house. I spent my first Raya away from home in 2007, when I was studying in the UK. My grandmother passed away in 2009, my parents kept it a secret from me because I was sitting for my finals. When I finally returned in 2011, we still celebrate in the kampong but it wasn’t the same.

My grandfather stays with us, and nobody really takes care of the kampong house. We would go there once a year for Raya. Can you imagine the amount of work that is required to bring it back to habitable, or almost habitable condition? After that, we had to cook a lot of food for our family members who are spending Raya there as well as for the relatives who would come to visit on the subsequent days.

There used to be trees growing outside of the house – Durian, Rambutan, Sapodilla, Jackfruit, Coconut. These trees somehow made the house a bit cooler at the peak of the day. Rambutan season was my favourite because we would spend almost every afternoon picking Rambutan fruit and eating it there and then. Now, the trees are gone leaving the outside of the house very bare.

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Kampong from the front.

Here’s how Raya went this year:

Day T-2: We went back to kampong, arrived at midnight, grateful that one of the uncles came a bit earlier to clean some parts of the house so that we could at least sleep.

Day T-1: Cleaning continues. We went to the wet market to get ingredients to cook and then the supermarket for other things. Cooking. More extended family members arrived. Everyone was busy cooking, eating and socializing until 1am.

Day 1: Woke up at 6.30am, got ready to go for Eid prayers. After that, came back home and changed. Gave Raya money to my parents, and my younger cousins. Relatives start coming and the house was so full. Some of us stayed in the kitchen to make sure the food and beverage supply are sufficient. It was so hot, coupled with the amount of people in that small house at one time, we were roasting. We tried to take a family photo. Some of us went out to visit the neighbour’s  house. Soon after, we saw an ambulance. Our grandfather was taken to the hospital because his speech was slurred. After a few tests, it turned out that he had a panic attack and was allowed to go home.

Day 2: I woke up 3 times during the night to go to the bathroom. I found out that all the people who went to the neighbour’s house yesterday had diarrhea. More relatives came. We managed to visit our grandaunt’s house. Some of us had to go home straight after due to diarrhea. We watched a horror movie before bed, and I always fall asleep right before the movie ends. Sorry, guys.

Day 3: We’re okay now! No more diarrhea! Relatives started coming at 10am and only stopped at 3pm. We were exhausted but we had to go home today. We packed everything and left.

So that’s just the first part. Raya lasts a month so…