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Eid al-Fitr Across the Globe

Call it Eid al-Fitr, Eid Nei, Hari Raya, Lebaran, or Seker Bayrami; it’s the same wonderful celebration for Muslims all around the world.

Compiled by: Ari Vanuaranu

Various nations celebrate the Aidilfitri holiday according to each cultural background, and there are always interesting stories to be told when different cultures collide.

Pretty Number for Both Genders

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Wearing traditional clothing is part of Eid al-Fitr celebration in Malay societies around Southeast Asia

“My mother wanted us to visit her eldest brother in Singapore a week before Eid al-Fitr. It was a very warm family reunion as we hadn’t seen them for the longest time and there were too many cousins, nephews and nieces that I’ve never met before.

     “One little guy was raving about wanting to buy ‘baju kurung’ for Hari Raya Aidilfitri and I was very surprised to see how the parents were all smiles about it. When I told my father about my wonderment, he laughed so hard that the rest of the room turned silent for some moments. He later explained to me that unlike in Malaysia where we define ‘baju kurung’ as exclusively female, in Singapore it refers to both male and female Malay traditional attire (apparently this is true in some Malay provinces in Indonesia as well). My ears turned red almost instantly.’’

Mohamad Safwan Bin Abd Hamid, Marketing Executive in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 

One Sweet Day in Germany

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Salah (ritual prayer) is the second pillar of the Islamic faith

“It was my first time to welcome Eid al-Fitr in Germany, and I was very excited. I woke up really early, took a shower and dressed myself in my best attire. I knocked on my best friend Nadya’s door to ask her to go a mosque nearby for Eid salah (Eid ritual prayer), only to find the Turkish girl’s sleepy eyes looking incredulously at me. Apparently, most Turkish mosques here didn’t expect women to come for Eid prayer as it was not the norm for them.

     “I felt a big disappointment as it is an important part of Lebaran tradition back in Indonesia but the feeling was abated when later in the afternoon Nadya brought me some of her country’s tradition for Seker Bayrami: Baklava, Turkish Delights and loads of other good stuff. That day ended up to be literally one of the sweetest Eid celebrations in my life!”

Artika Mahendradatta, Graduate Student in Berlin, Germany 

The Disclosure of Faith

“I was enjoying my time in Yangon, but after the conflict with the Rakhines broke out, I became wary about disclosing myself as a Muslim. But Ramadan came and it proved to be more difficult to avoid the questions on why I was skipping lunch and I finally relented.

     “To my surprise, the disclosure was received positively. I was introduced to a Muslim employee who enlightened me about many local Ramadan traditions. I told him that I was not going back to Indonesia for Eid al-Fitr and he invited me to celebrate with him and his family. A lovely surprise indeed when the boss from work also came together with some of the staff. Even though Eid Nei is not a public holiday in Myanmar, they actually took time from work to visit and have some Shai Mai (sweet vermicelli) with us. It was a lovely way to experience the tolerance they have in this country.”

Esa Yudhi Suryolaksono, NGO worker in Yangon, Myanmar 

Two Worlds in Harmony

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Food has the ability to bring people together

“Growing up as a Muslim minority in the United States, I’ve always seen Ramadan as a month of contemplation and Eid al-Fitr for reflection. That is why I was perplexed to see that halfway around the world, in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country of Indonesia, everything is outlandishly lavish.

     “Almost every day I receive an invitation to the Indonesian version of group iftar (dinner to break the fast), a lively affair where everyone—including the non-Muslims—is invited. Don’t get me started on Hari Raya Idul Fitri; they take ‘OTT’ to a new level by the extravagant spread of food and drinks. Children are going from door-to-door asking for angpau (packets containing money, a practice of Chinese origin) which seemed very materialistic to me.

     “But now I understand. It’s all an expression of the Indonesians’ strong sense of community, something that I’ve come to love. That, and the taste of ketupat (rice dumpling) and opor ayam (chicken in coconut gravy)!”

Youssef Ibrahim, American expat in Jakarta, Indonesia

No matter where we are or how we celebrate it, Eid al-Fitr is a very special day for billions of people around the world. What makes Eid al-Fitr special to you?

GETTING THERE AirAsia flies to Kuala Lumpur from various destinations. For flight information and the lowest fares, go to www.airasia.com

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