Different but not any less raya

Looking on the bright sight, the movement restriction should not stand between the way of making our Hari Raya meaningful. – Filepic/Bernama

TIME flies like an arrow and Syawal is just around the corner. In just few days, we will be celebrating Hari Raya. At this time past years, our hands were busy with many tasks preparing for the big day, normally at the comfort of our parents’ house.

As the joyous day is approaching, fond Raya spirit uplifts every soul effortlessly. This thought however turns out to be a pie in the sky today. 

Not only we are unable to rejoice in the occasion of going back to our hometown, we are also unable to congregate for the Hari Raya prayer in the mosque together this year. Equally strange, we show how much we care for our family and friends by not paying them a visit at home.

Put simply, the classic Hari Raya tradition we look forward to each year is now subdued as the lockdown is prolonged in tandem with the ongoing spread of COVID-19. Looking on the bright sight, the movement restriction should not stand between the way of making our Hari Raya meaningful.

Instead of letting the movement restriction sombre haunts us, we should take this opportunity to stretch our creativity and make the best out of this different kind of Hari Raya. Unwittingly,  there are many other traditions we could pursue merrily with a bit of a tweak.

One of the essences of Hari Raya is giving and forgiving. Remotely, we can still exchange forgiveness. After all, it is the thought and intention that matters the most. For the kids, part of the Hari Raya gratification revolves around collecting duit raya.

The convenience of sending E-duit raya zaps out the excuses of not giving one this year. Hearty home cooked meals and scrumptious kuih raya best sum up the highlight of Hari Raya. In keeping the festivity lively this lockdown, we could still feast together remotely. It will not be a bad idea to teleconference our Hari Raya brunch with families from wherever we are.

After a hearty meal, how about screenshotting fun and creative family photos like never before? These screenshots will surely dominate social media posts and hopefully brighten the day.

Another tradition we are putting on hold this year is the physical visitation. Fret not, with all the online hangout possibilities, the extra distance should not drift us apart.  It would be nice to host online hangouts over kuih raya and before saying goodbye, take another memorable screenshot to be bond over in the future. 

Admittedly, nothing beats the power of presence and face to face interaction during this festive seasons. In making do with the best alternatives we have, part of us may feel incomplete without the tradition we grew up with.

Chin up for this shall pass. When life gives us lemon, we make lemonade. When we have to celebrate Hari Raya in the lockdown mode, we revive it.

Amid the awkwardness and bittersweet memory that awaits us, it is worth remembering that we make no mistake by indulging Hari Raya at the odds of staying  put at home. The last thing we want is becoming an irresponsible citizen who makes the pandemic far harder to contain.

If anything, let us hope that our sacrifice this Raya is temporary and most importantly, it will make way for a safer celebration in the near future. Many years down the line when the pandemic is fully contained, this different kind of Hari Raya may turn into the sweetest memory we cherish all our life.

From Putrajaya, my husband and I would like to wish our families in Tawau, Kota Kinabalu, Bangi and Machang as well as our dear friends near and far, Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf Zahir Batin!

* Dr Zurina Moktar is an expert in business model innovation, technology commercialization and biodiversity conservation. She holds a PhD in Engineering from the University of Cambridge, UK.

** The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of Astro AWANI.