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Celebrating Eid, Malaysians highlight harmony, respect
06 : 51 PM - 18/07/2015
Kuala, Lumpur, July 18 (BNA): Nur felt a sense of pride swell up inside as she spoke of Eid Al Fitr tradition of open houses in her country, Malaysia.
“Hari Raya open houses are one of the greatest tributes to the great harmony characterizing our nation,” the executive secretary, said. “It is a tradition that we are all keen on observing and keeping. It is a top priority for all of us, regardless of our religious and social backgrounds,” she said, her eyes glistening with delight.
On Eid Al Fitr, hundreds of thousands of Malaysians attend open houses hosted by sultans and common people in a dedicated commitment to the spirit of unity and sharing rarely attained in other countries.
Guests from all religious and racial backgrounds walk in palaces and houses, greet the hosts and help themselves to a wide spread of local and traditional cuisine like lemang, ketupat, rendang, nasi dagang, satay, and murtabak, as well local fruits that included jackfruit, durian and bananas and beverages.
Bernama, the official news agency, reported that about 30,000 people of all communities attended the Aidilfitri open house of Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin at the Seri Pekembar Complex in Pago.
The dishes at the open house included nasi beriyani gam, satay, mee bandung, mee rebus, murtabak and traditional cakes.
Bukit Gambir state assemblyman M. Asojan said the air of festivity reflected the racial solidarity among the people.
"This is the spirit and uniqueness we have in our country, when all the communities gather to celebrate together," he said. He urged all the people to strengthen solidarity that had been nurtured all this while, Bernama reported.
More than 10,000 were at Istana Pasir Pelangi, the palace of Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, the Sultan of Johor, within hours of the open house.
Some of the guests said it was an annual tradition they never wanted to miss and invariably made plans to be there as early as 9 am to enjoy the carnival-like atmosphere.
“Apart from the wonderful feast, guests enjoy being welcomed by royals and sharing the spirit of harmony and unity,” Nur said.
Even though very close-knit families tended to meet every weekend to lunch or dine together, the Hari Raya meant getting together for two or three days.
Even the homeless have a chance to be merry at open houses. On the street.
Bernama said that Pertiwi Soup Kitchen's Hari Raya open house on the street brings together the homeless to share the festive spirit. It is also part of the NGO's effort to provide food for the homeless around Chow Kit, Kota Raya and Masjid India.
The open house for the homeless was held on the first night of Hari Raya.
The sense of merriment on Eid Al Fitr is felt across the communities.
Lee, a taxi driver, said Malaysia had no real problems with racial or religious issues.
“I am originally from China but I have never been to China and do not see why I should go there, especially because the trip is expensive. I am a Malaysian and my father was also born here,” he said.
According to Lee, relations with fellow Malaysians must not be based on race or religion.
“For example, all my Muslim friends celebrate Eid Al Fitr. I have plans to visit them and spend the day hopping from one house to the other, enjoying the company and particularly the food they offer in their open houses. I have always done that and not a single one told me that the celebrations were confined to Muslims. That is the spirit,” he said.
Ravi, a Malaysian of Indian descent, has a “happy job” at the observation deck of the Kuala Lumpur Tower. He smilingly invites tourists to have their picture taken wearing traditional Malay wedding costumes from Malacca.
“I am Malaysian and I am proud of it,” about his status as he rearranged the colourful costumes while waiting for a tourist.
Does he ever think about going back to the land of his ancestors?
“No way. I am Malaysian. I might want to go on a short tour to look at some of the temples but I think of myself and live as a Malaysian.”
From his post at the 421-metre tower, he had an unparalleled bird’s-eye view of the city he loved dearly.
Malaysia has three major ethnic groups. Malay make up slightly more than 60 per cent of the 27 million citizens, whereas Chinese represent 23.7 per cent and Indians 7.1 per cent.
The concept of “Malaysian Malaysia”, the catchphrase for a multi-racial Malaysia was launched in the 1960s.
Decades later, it was followed by the slogan “Together in unity, a nation in harmony. One Malaysia.”
“We strongly believe in this vision and should work together to achieve it,” Lee said. Coming from a Chinese, the support was significant. “‘One Malaysia’ concept is laudable. Malaysian society needs to recognise differences,” he said.
In their Hari Raya messages, the country’s politicians said Malaysians should continue to move forward and to dismiss any form of racism or divisions.
Aware of the growing threats emanating from social media, they insisted the people should act responsibly in order to preserve the country’s peace and harmony.
“Political parties, especially the leaders, must advise their followers and cyber troopers not to play the race card,” Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said.
Abdul Rahman Dahlan, Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister said Malaysians must be smart when using the social media.
“The Government has given us the democratic space to share our views, so be responsible. This is our home and it is all we have,” he said.
For Hiba, an Arab based in the Gulf, the whole Malaysian tolerance and mutual acceptance experience is a wonderful example worth emulating by other Muslim countries.
“When we see how religious and racial divisions are now play so much in local politics and how they are being used to divide nations and undermine their stability, we pray for social cohesion and national unity,” she said. “The ominous faults of divisions within any country must be addressed through engaging everyone in the fight to consolidate the nation of the one nation and shield the society from obnoxious onslaughts, both internal and external” she said.
It was her first trip to Malaysia and she said she was fortunate she visited the country when it was getting ready to celebrate Eid Al Fitr.
Flying on Malaysian Airlines, she felt the great care and special attention provided by the airline crew to the passengers, making sure their trip is as pleasant and as comfortable as possible despite the long flying hours. She loved feeling treated in special ways.
“A most pleasant flight dominated by friendly smiles and great gourmet food,” she said.
At hotels in the vivacious capital Kuala Lumpur, in Malacca, a city steeped in history, culture and tradition, and in Johor Bahru, the southernmost city majestically overlooking the Strait of Johor commonly referred to as JB, Hiba said she felt the gracious hospitality and the graceful charm.
She loved how the blessings of the holy month of Ramadan were extended to the orphans and the needy and how hosting orphans and refugees for iftar – the breaking of the fast – was one of the most delightful experiences shared by the hosts and guests, regardless of their background.
She watched how in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building along the highly symbolic Merdeka Square in the capital, more than 1,000 people gathered to break the fast within a spirit of togetherness that transgressed backgrounds and social status.
“This is a land of great shopping opportunities and marketing offers, yet the spiritual spirit is not drowned by materialism. It is prevalent and it can be felt throughout the country,” she said. “In a fancy hotel in JB, I saw how a group of Rohingya refugees, mostly children visibly awed by the august setting, were given special tables where they sat patiently eagerly for the call to eat. I saw young orphans in Kuala Lumpur sharing iftar with the rich and mighty. It was so heart-warming” she said.
Mutual respect and trust in one another, the two main principles for “One Malaysia” and the concept of unity in diversity seemed well developed in the minds and deeds of the people.

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