It started with a trip to Negara, the closest shopping centre to our village. The car was loaded with myself, Dwi, his sister, mum and four year old niece. There was a strong sense of excitement within the car as it was the day before Idulfitri/Eid Mubarak, the end of Ramadan (or as I like to compare it to home, like our Christmas). With the whole family, friends and village preparing their houses with foods, drinks and decorations it was only normal to head to the shops.
Normally I don’t dress too traditional. And it’s pretty rear to find me in any dress let alone a ‘girly’ one. As we were all flicking through the long sleeved, western style shirts, Dwi’s sister found what I thought to be a wedding dress or Star Wars dress up. As I giggled to Dwi about my Tom boy style, they were all serious for me to try it on. Okay, it was a really nice dress on, but the faces of everyone said I had to buy it. Maybe they were all just in shock to see me looking like a lady and not in my denim shorts, bikini top, scraggy post-surf wet hair and hoodies, but with the limited language barrier between us they insisted that I buy it. I did get the western styled long sleeved shirt as well as a back up!
The shopping trip soon turned into a crowded traditional kitchen full of amazing smells and foods being produced at the house. From grandma cleaning and peeling millions of garlic cloves to the ladies creating curries, chicken being traditionally killed in the room next door, as much rice as you can imagine sitting and warming, to the yummiest coconut flavoured cakes, all wrapped in banana leaves. I helped in squeezing together the hundreds of rice and chicken balls,vwhich then too had to be wrapped in banana leaves. It definitely wasn’t a quick job! An afternoon nap was well deserved for the majority.
The night before the big day, it is only tradition to join in with the convoy that travels around the surrounding villages. There are motorbikes, cars and trucks decorated beautifully and heard by the loud horns and music as well as the dancers on board. The villages are paraded through while many spectators line the streets to see the epic show and of course the fireworks! We were on our new scoopy and like any trip on the scooter your bum gets a little numb after a few hours, especially travelling at such low speeds in the high amount of traffic in the convoy!
The big day. After a few little dramas early in the morning the entire family, along with the rest of the village were on the way to the mosque for an hour or so (I don’t attend this). With it being such a family orientated day I went to the beach and called home. Upon my late arrival back to the house (I’m always running late) I quickly showered (with our cold water bucket shower), got dressed and prepared for the day. Within the village many of the families are very large, as is Dwis. This means that when the family come to visit there are hundreds of faces to remember and meet!
Like a lot of people I love culture. To be immersed in a different culture than what I was brought up in means I am always learning and trying new things. It is unique and very interesting, but sometimes it can get a little confusing. Lucky I have my boy as a translator with me! On this big day we goto all the different families houses within the village, (and that’s a lot!) to shake hands and greet everyone. The cultural tradition is to shake heads and say to one another “Minal Aidin wal Faizin”, an Arab sentence meaning “May we be sacred one more time and succeeded our fasting. It is a way that the village, families and neighbours make peace and connect with each other to start a fresh year.
After a few hours of walking from house to house greeting everyone in the village it was time to go home and enjoy the feast of food that the ladies had produced. It was a very hot day and wearing a long, think dress as well as a belly full of chilli mixed with sweets it was starting to take its toll on me. Lucky I brought that back up shirt!
The festival continued for the following week. There were many families coming to our house that had travelled from villages far away to come and greet one another. There was always food being cooked and prepared for the entire week as well as a setting on the floor mats with sweets, cakes and drinks such as water and teas, ready for any visitors that may arrive.