Sunday, September 27, 2009

IN PRAISE OF SHAWAL AND ALL THAT COMES WITH IT


Toddlers and young children especially in all their innocence have a grand time during festive seasons. Hari Raya Aidilfitri is no exception. More so it must be the most celebrated occasion in the Muslim year. Even adults may look back and fondly remember the youthful exuberance of welcoming the evening of Shawal with the dins of crackers and bamboo-cannons, intermixing with verses of the 'takbir' from the mosque and the radio/TV schedules in the background. Mothers, sisters or the women folks in the family busied themselves in the kitchen racing to finish the varied dishes and savouries which would grace the dining tables early on the first day of Aidilfitri. Earlier the 'jemaah' at the mosque after the Isyak prayer had melancholy said good bye to Ramadan after devoting themselves throughout the holy month . Suddenly the evenings took a change from the previous month's nights of Ramadan. It was not a release from having to fast in the day time, because everyone adhered to the rule but it was obligatory that we celebrate the first of Shawal. The day after and the subsequent five days Muslims may fast as continuance and celebrating 'Raya' puasa enam' on the seventh day of Shawal.

Celebrations follow in many forms. The exodus of 'balik kampong' capped it all. Sons and daughters make a point to return home to the family roots. Those with wives and husbands naturally have to transport their retinues. Airline, railway and express bus tickets were grabbed month ahead. Extra leaves were requested beside the extensive four or five days closure of offices and establishments. It was returning home of a special kind: to enjoy the special atmosphere and exuberance that comes once a year, to be in contact with all relatives near and far, friends and classmates and admittedly to touch ground and taste home cooking. Wedding celebrations are held during the week with the expectation of a larger attendance especially of relatives. Attendance at functions during the festive week took a grandeur scenario when all came in their finer attires, typically in traditional dresses in hues of colors. The quiet home at all time, inhibited by two loving couples suddenly awoke to laughter, merriment and joyfulness as all shared the treasures it held all the while. All rooms and spaces were occupied: sleeping on the floor and hitting the hay stack hours after midnight chatting over old tales came naturally as that was how it began earlier. Pillows and mattresses suddenly came out of no where to cater to the needs. It was a sin and uncalled for should family members resorted to check into hotel rooms in town. In reference to the many foreign workers in the country, they too made the annual home visit in preference to this auspicious day. The Indonesian being closer made a beeline to their nearest ports of call.

The Aidilfitri prayer at the local mosques attended by all: men, women, boys, girls, parents and their siblings turned to be a large gathering after it was over. Everyone met each other offering greetings, affections and forgiveness. Many then walked beyond the gates of the mosque to visit and offer prayers at the graves of their love ones, rekindling loves and affections to the departed. Alfatihah.

Back at homes, sons and daughters kissed their parents, asking forgiveness and likewise parents too. Son and daughters- in- laws followed with grand-children each and every one in that brief moment realizing filial piety . Soon it became a never - ending queue as others visited the home and meeting in like manner too. Children received 'raya' envelopes containing 'ringgit' as token of goodwill on this occasion. The more adventurous of them made a beeline to the neighbors' homes collecting their dues and planning to purchase the best of gifts with their new found wealth. Some among them would intimate to proceed to the nearest cinema hall and of course to view the latest of the shows aptly put up for the day.

For this auspicious day, we had all our five siblings ( sons and daughters) at home on the first three days. With their spouses and children it grew to two dozen and expectancy grew with the arrival of three sisters and a brother along with spouses and their own productions. Not counting the home crowd and relatives, it was a feast to cater to all. Preparations had been made to provide for eventualities such as this and the self -service counter at the corner of the house helped greatly. No doubt 'ketupat', 'rendang', 'nasi Mansor' ( from a local restauranteur) with the inevitable 'dalca' and 'ayam masak rose' were pullers. Added to that a fresh addition of 'laksa siam' with its aromatic 'curry or 'kuah' kept all in good mood.

The festive atmosphere however had to bow down to reopening of work schedules and schooling. Slowly but definitely the visitors had to start packing, loading their unwashed clothing, piling one another into the Nissan, Proton, Isuzu, Honda vehicles that carted all of them here, contented and happy for a break that promised goodwill and family indulgences. Never mind the long queue of vehicles on the return journey. The children would for sure be quieter on the return leg, having frolicked all the days. Goodbyes with kisses and and deep embraces accompanied all that had come home to root. Next year's Aidilfitri would see them again. 'Balik Kampong ' will be a sure fire anecdotes to home grown family gathering solemnized by the ending of Ramadan and the resonance of 'takbir' that play on your deeper emotions.


Yes he is just as happy as the rest discovering new avenues and learning experiences. He will continue to appreciate the 'balik kampong' scenario and will insist for a return sooner than you think.


The lights of 'Shawal' , the characteristic homely atmosphere helped to pull the family home. The frolics of youth haunt many to feel the atmosphere again however distance they may be,





Shoes off. Left at the foot of the staircase. Their owners in the house sobering the early delights of Shawal and conscious that the children awaited for them for fireworks and crackers to din the nights at least





Casual and relax maybe after the day's meeting with members of the family. Now a time to sit down and give thoughts to family identity and future well being.







A family photo at the 'rumah kayu' / 'rumah seni Melayu' that welcome all and look forward to see many more occasions like this




6 comments:

Ocean Girl said...

Selamat Hari Raya sekali lagi. Shawal is nostalgic and especially so reading about your family gathering and seeing the wonderful pictures in your post.

Uncle Lee said...

Hi Kotastar, your photos are not only beautiful, and well taken, but it brings warmth to anyone looking at them.
A picture says a thousand words. Yours says three thousand.
Love the pics of that house with shoes outside.
The colour is fantastic, macham looking at National Geographic.

I have always enjoyed staying at a kampong house...and twice in my early teens...
the fun of waking up at 5am, bathing by a well at 6am!
That was something I did not appreciate...sejuk ayer nya...gigi bunyi macham M-16 full blast, ha ha.

And the burning of coconut husks petang to smoke the skeeters away...I remember once my friend and I burn too many same time...you should have seen the pakcik lari from the well, halfway mandi thinking his house on fire, ha ha. He holding up his wet sarong was hilarious!
We did not laugh then. Later yes.

And makcik and anaks running out coughing...
It was a wonder I received another invitation of, "Lee mesti datang lagi, ya"?
But regret they never allowed me to beat the kumpang drums at a wedding in the kampung...guess Chinese lion dance beat not appropriate, ha ha.

Keep well Kotastar, best regards, Lee.

KotaStar said...

Ocean Girl,
Terima kasih kerana mendapat kesempatan menjenguk juga walaupun tentu sibuk sepanjang Aidilfitri' Nanti kalau balik singgahlah di TTGajah Semoga sdri dan keluarga sihat selalu dan diberkati Allah swt.

KotaStar said...

Dear Lee,
Notice the dancing couple as yr signature / mark.My I hope it is not a strong jerk as you swing yr partner in the tango. Nanti jatuh! I may say it's dashing. Lee thanks for yr comment always lifting me to discover a good story to write about and some pics to accompany. Yes I would agree with you the kampong with all its tradition and color can outphased city life anytime. I am glad the story kindled yr thoughts of the yesteryears. Can you believe we bought the old house for RM1500.00 and rebuilt it as it looks now but multiply by 100. That's how timber has set its value.However it is great and sits 100 metres away from where we are on an adjacent lot. Bila hendak cari ilham atau ketenteraman we head here. Next time you are around I will getyou to pukul the kompang. Ha, Ha. Thanks again.

muteaudio said...

Selamat Hari Raya Uncle,
Saw the brightly lit kampung house a few doors from yours and realized that's the house you've been writing about. That night the 2nd night of Syawal I was en route to Chuping from Alor Madi for midnight mountain biking.

The next day I drove past again en route to my my uncle's place in Titi Besi and thinking it'll be nice to have a project like yours there (Titi Besi). Alor Madi is too close to development. My mornings were greeted by the sight of kompleks kerajaan across the river. Not an interesting sight when one of the reason you return is to escape the concrete jungle (besides than meeting your family of course)

Anyway, pls send my regards and Raya to the missus. Selamat Hari Raya. Maaf Zahir Batin

BTW, I've interviewed the 'neighbour' mid Ramadan.

kotastar said...

Muteaudio,

Terimakasih tapi mengapa tak singgah sebentar.Tentu sekali boleh menjamu selera dengan ketupat dan laksa Siam. Hangpun naik basikal? Kalau berhenti malam tu , mungkin uncle ikut bersama. Ada dua 'proton' baik, beli beberapa bulan lalu bertujuan untuk berbasikal katanya.Tapi belum serious lagi .Kalau ada member boleh jadi akan berbasikal semula. Great that you have interviewed the neighbor and hopefully we can see the story soon. Do notify us. Yr blog seems to get a strong reaction. Crude and insulting. That's what I can say. Salam to the soldier farmer.