Ramadan and Aidilfitri celebrations differ at home and Malaysia

Ramadan and Aidilfitri celebrations differ at home and Malaysia

PUCHONG: Ramadan is a month when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk.  While Malaysians have the luxury of breaking fast with family at dusk and eating food before dawn, foreigners residing here don’t get to do that with their loved ones.

They also spoke how different Ramadan and Aidilfitri celebrations are here.

Ferishte Jabbari, 29, an ethnic Iranian and Kuwaiti national has been in Malaysia for 10 years.

“We have bazaars. Hypermarkets have promotions similar to Malaysia. There are also buffets similar to Malaysia,” she said.

“In Iran 98 percent Muslim, not much cultural mix. The vibe of Ramadan is different.”

“Aidilfitri is similar with people visiting family members in Iran and Kuwait. That goes on one to two weeks. By comparison, in Malaysia you have open houses. In Malaysia they invite you.”

“We don’t have that Iran and Kuwait. We go separately. On Eid day everyone gathers at their grandparents’ home.”

She also spoke about the traditional dishes mainly desserts that was unique in the Middle East.

“Ramadan at home comes with zoorbiya baarmiyan (jilebi). grand caramel, castre, ferni (rice pudding). It reminds me of Ramadan when I see these dishes.

“In Malaysia, I once worked until sunset. I like porridge and ‘sirap bandung’.”

Aasil, an ethnic Palestinian who lived in Saudi Arabia and holds a Jordanian passport noted the stark difference between her home country and Malaysia. She has been in Malaysia for the past nine years.

“Ramadan in Malaysia is very different than in my country. In all three countries in Middle East, it is almost the same. Culturally it is different from Malaysia,” she said.

“In Saudi Arabia for example, malls open at 10 am to 2pm. And then it is open at night to midnight. Here everything is closed at 10pm.  By the time you finish your prayers there is not much activities for you to do. 

“There is a different smell in the air in my country. It is a spiritual thing. The atmosphere feels calm. Work timings are different here.  Even the non-Muslims would be off work.”

“In Malaysia you can’t feel because there are so many different cultures and religions.”

“We have bazaars but food places are open only for two hours if people want to buy food before prayers whereas the bazaars here are open for longer hours.”

“The working hours are 10 to 2. Then 8.30pm to 2am, so it is different.”

The absence of family too is a vital reason why she felt the difference.

“Top reason for it to be different is family is not. Family plays an important role. My mom will cook. We would sit and eat together. 

“Over here it is a little lonely.  Breaking fast with friends is different than breaking fast with family.

She also spoke about her favorite native dishes.

“In my family we break the fast with soup with main meals. On first day of Ramadan my mom always makes kabsa with prawn, prawn briyani, She’ll make fried fish – a tradition in our family.

The most important is samosa with spring rolls. She listed satay and chicken wings as her favorite local food.

Hussain Noushat, a Pakistani student also recalled the difference in the working hours.

“Shops are closed in the afternoon until evening. Family members come back home early to break their fast and we have a good meal with them.

“Sometimes you are invited for iftar at the homes of relatives and friends for a party,” said Hussain who is from Karachi,” he said.

“The working hours is 10am to 3pm or 4pm.  Karachi lifestyle was a little relaxed whereas Bandar Sunway and Kuala Lumpur is a little bit more fast paced. I feel it is more stressful here.”

“My favorite food would be chicken karahi with naan,” he said. “I like kuey teow here. I went to Penang and it was really nice.”

Chicken karahi is a fragrance chicken curry well known in North India and Pakistan.

Hussain Noushat

Arafat Siddikol who has been working in Malaysia for the past five years is from Dhaka, Bangladesh wishes he was back at home, celebrating with his family.

“I haven’t gone back. My parents and sisters are there. I don’t have enough money now. If I had enough, I would definitely return to celebrate with them.

“We call each other frequently. My sister spoke to me.”

Instead of a variety of dishes, Arafat prefers local fruits in Malaysia with his favorite being rambutans and durians.

Tags assigned to this article: