Ramadan in Malaysia and what I miss about it

Ramadan is the fasting month for all Muslims all over the world. It is the 4th Pillars of Islam. During this month, Muslims are obliged to refrain themselves from eating, drinking and doing sexual relationship from dusk to dawn. Ramadan is also the month where any good deeds and any religious worships will be rewarded multiple time so we can see in this month,  people spend more time in performing prayers, reciting Quran, doing charity works and good deeds.

Although fasting during Ramadan is a religious practice, if we look all over the world, we can see the variations in celebrating this holy month between different countries.They have their own cultural practices in celebrating Ramadan and this make this holy month merrier. For someone like me who has been studying oversea and has been fasting here for several years I experienced variety ways to celebrate Ramadan. But, how far you’ll go, how long you’ll left your country, you will never forget these few things about Ramadan in Malaysia and what makes it special.

  • Announcement of 1st day of Ramadan

The night before 1st day of Ramadan, after performing Maghrib prayer, everyone will usually gather in front of television and wait for the announcement of 1st day of fasting from Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal. We usually can recognize him because he will be the same man we see the previous years unless someone else replace him. Although there is very low percentage the 1st day of fasting is delayed from the supposed date, waiting for the announcement has been a routine every year. The holy month has started, so let’s start working out towards a better Ramadan!

  • ‘Tarawih’

The ‘Tarawih’ prayer is an extra prayer performed by Muslim at the night of Ramadan. It is performed daily, 2 raka’at for each prayer and will be closed by 3 raka’at of ‘witir’ prayer. In Malaysia, this prayer is usually performed for 11 raka’at but some mosque do it by 21 or 23 raka’at. Usually after Isya’ Azan, you can see people heading to the mosque. Some will walk with their family and some will bike with their friends by bicycle or motorcycle especially the adolescents. You can also see women wearing their ‘telekung’, a long hijab usually worn by Malaysian Muslims during praying and men wear their ‘baju melayu’, a traditional cloth. This prayer is usually ended by a long ‘wirid’, prayers, lead by the Imam. After the prayer some will stay to recite the quran together and some will go home. And, not to forget, it has been a culture here for the mosque to provide ‘moreh’, light feast, after the prayer.

  • ‘Moreh’

When I was a child, I remember being excited to go to the mosque for ‘tarawih’ prayer for its ‘moreh’. Though my house had excess food already but I was always looking forward for the ‘moreh’. ‘Moreh’ is simply a small feast served by the mosque for everyone after ‘tarawih’ prayer. In some places, they sometimes make a schedule for the community to provide foods and everyone is always glad to contribute in providing it. Sometimes there is ‘nasi lemak’, rice with chilli paste, or black-bean porridge, or fried noodles and variety of other food. After the long ‘tarawih’ prayer, feeding your stomach with the feast will make you go home full!

  • ‘Bubur Lambuk’

‘Bubur lambuk’, a traditional porridge made from rice, dried shrimp, onion, coconut oil and few other ingredients  is one of the thing that makes Ramadan in Malaysia unique. This delicious porridge is only served during this month. Usually people will come to the mosque, bringing along their knife and their chopping board to cook ‘bubur lambuk’ together. Then, few hours before the ‘iftar’, the distributions of ‘bubur lambuk’ will start. Back then when I was a kid, I would cycle to the mosque to take it for my family. Sometimes, my kind neighbour would take it for us and sent it to our home. This tradition, from the process of making it to the distribution, in my opinion, has really bring people together.

  • Firecrackers

Who never play firecrackers during their childhood? I believe everyone has played this at least once. As much as I can remember, besides from the ‘moreh’ that I always waited for, I was also looking forward to play firecrackers as much as I want. I would usually pester my father to buy me firecrackes at the market. As I grew bigger, sometimes I asked my sister to accompany me to some place that sold the more dangerous type of firecrackers and selling it was totally illegal on that time. Thus, they sold it in private. Moreover, boys would also make their own firecrackers and we called that ‘mercun buluh’. Usually people would started playing it after ‘iftar’ and we could hear the loud sound of firecrackers from far and sometimes we could also saw their beautiful sparks on the sky. Also, during this time of the year you will find many news about kids losing his finger and kids becoming blind after playing with it. Nowadays the regulations are more strict so we don’t see much firecracker being sold. Kids nowadays also have their smart phones so they don’t usually bother going outside to play firecrackers.

  • ‘Bazar’

Malaysia is already well-known for its variety of delicacies but truth is, if any tourist come to Malaysia during Ramadan they will be more intrigued by the wide selection of foods sold at the ‘bazar’. Usually most places will have their own ‘bazar’, where there will be a wide space with a lot of stalls selling foods and drinks. It usually starts at 3 or 4 pm and continued until ‘iftar’. You can choose any foods you want with affordable prices and people will always have hard time abstaining themselves from buying everything. All foods are very tempting. There is heavy meal like rice and noodles, sweet desserts like the traditional ‘kuih’, sweet cake, and also cold drinks from ‘ABC’, ‘cendol’ to juices. And honestly, the ‘bazar’ and its foods are what Malaysians who lived abroad will be longing for.

So, here are 6 things I miss about Ramadan in Malaysia. There are other things that make Ramadan in Malaysia more special and I think they need no listing. We all knew and experienced them. But as I said before, each country has their own culture and their own way in celebrating this holy month. Egypt is special by its decorations like ‘fannus’ and its traditional food, ‘katayef’. During Ramadan, we can see people in Egypt serving the poor by what they call ‘Maidah Rahman’. We can also see them reading Al-Quran whenever and wherever they are even while waiting for the bus.This is quite unlikely to be seen in Malaysia.

Aside from all the cultural practices I stated above, we should also know that Ramadan is a holy month for us Muslim where any good deeds will be rewarded multiple times so what’s most important is we celebrate it by increasing our acts of worshipping Allah and by doing more charitable works. It is a month to test our patience and persistence. So, Happy Ramadan everyone! Ramadan Kareem!

 

LAMAN KOLUMNIS

Atikah bt Musa
5th Year
Faculty of Medicine
Ain Shams University

Karya Unit,
Bureau Publication & Information,
PERUBATAN Ain Shams Chapter 2017/2018

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