The streets are thronged with ketupat leaves and fairy lights, there is laughter in the air, and everyone seems to be stunningly well-dressed — yes, it’s Raya time.
Hari Raya Aidilfitri is an annually celebrated event that marks the end of the Muslim fasting month, also known as Ramadan. Typically on the first day of Syawal, the tenth month of the Hijrah (Islamic) calendar, there are joyful celebrations that are loud, raucous, and — after a month of abstinence — well-deserved. This day is also known as Hari Raya Puasa (puasa means “fasting”).
How do people celebrate it?
Prior to this day, Muslims located in the cities typically balik kampung (return to their home towns) in order to celebrate Hari Raya with their families. This day is usually also a national holiday, so school children and working adults can spend time with their family without worrying about formal obligations.
The day itself opens with an early-morning prayer at the mosque, where Muslims give thanks for their blessings. They also seek forgiveness from family and friends for any trespasses, believing that peace and harmony is the way for all. Some families may also choose to visit the graves of departed loved ones, in order to pray for their souls, and more traditional communities may also light up the pelita (lamp) in their homes.
Muslims also tend to dress up for the occasion. Women wear the baju kurung (traditional Malay dress), baju kebaya (traditional blouse-dress), or a jubah (long one-piece dress), while men typically don a songkok (traditional hat) and the baju Melayu (traditional men’s wear).
Of course, no Hari Raya is complete without the excellent cuisine typically offered up at “open houses.” Usually, Muslims invite their friends and family (including non-Muslims) to their home to partake in traditional delicacies like the ketupat (rice dumpling cooked in a palm leaf pouch), rendang (meat stewed in spices), dodol (sticky, soft, toffee-like sweet), and satay (skewered meat). This invitation is extended in the spirit of love, harmony, and community.
How can you celebrate it?
On this special occasion, you may wish to attend state-organized open houses. Depending on the state, this may be hosted at the Sultan’s palace, a state-owned building, or even an open public land. This is usually lots of fun, because you get to meet people of different backgrounds (race, socio-economic class, etc.) and everyone is relaxed and smiling.
If you’ve been invited to a friend’s open house, be sure to arrive in respectable wear (nothing too revealing, as this is a family occasion after all). Muslims do not usually expect gifts (the “green packet” tradition is typically reserved for children, to be given by their elders), but if you don’t feel comfortable arriving at an open house without a gift, then a card or a gift of traditional sweets will do.
It may seem obvious, but it’s worth noting that you should not present any form of alcohol as a gift, as this is considered non-halal.
Finally, if you wish to emulate the locals and eat with your hand, be sure to eat with your right, as the left is considered rude (and reserved for less-savory activities). Guests and hosts may also choose to sit on the floor, as per tradition.
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably ready for your first Hari Raya celebration! Have fun and say “Selamat Hari Raya!”
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.