Festive seasons are days where Malaysian take some time off their busy schedules to reunite and spend time with their family members. As a multiracial and multicultural country, Malaysia enjoys a number of festivals and among these festivals is the widely celebrated Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
Hari Raya Aidilfitri falls on the first day of Syawal and the tenth month of the Hijrah (Islamic) calendar, and marks the end to the fasting season. It is celebrated generally as a joyous occasion succeeding a holy month of fasting during Ramadhan.
Traditionally, on the first day of Hari Raya, Muslims visit the mosque to thank the almighty for the blessings in their finest clothes (Baju Melayu & Baju Kurung). It is followed by a feast of home-cooked dishes where every household is not complete with lemang, ketupat, rendang and dodol. They also seek forgiveness from the elders for any offences committed in the past.
Values in Hari Raya Aidilfitri
1. Empathy and Compassion
This is the utmost value that Hari Raya Aidilfitri has taught us. Empathy is the ability one possesses to respond to someone’s emotions appropriately by understanding and sharing feelings. Empathetic people are able to put themselves in the shoes of others.
This value is portrayed through the tradition of Muslims giving alms or sedekah (charity) to the less fortunate. Islam strongly urges their followers to engage in charities as an act of kindness where the good deeds done in this period are treasured.
Through this, people can share the hardship of the underprivileged society. Providing Zakat (a percentage of your wealth), hearty meals, getting new clothes or simply giving donations are a few ways to show empathy. Hence, they craft a way for them to live a life with complete meals for days.
Although children might be young to comprehend empathy entirely, it is best to make them involved in charity tasks to instill this habit at home or in schools.
Another scenario that depicts empathy is the evening pop-up stalls (bazaar). Commonly, Malaysians are annoyed with inconsiderate parkers along the streets or even double parking, making them leave notes.
However, during Ramadhan, despite the rise in parking problems, people seem to be understanding and empathic towards others. It is clear that Hari Raya Aidilfitri guides us to practise empathy.
Fasting from dawn to dusk proves that one needs this commendable principle to succeed.
Those who fast need to control their urges because fasting obliges abstinence from food and drink. On top of that, gossiping or talking ill of others, smoking and wasting time are also among Ramadan’s no-o’s.
Besides, although children don’t need to fast, children aged 5-6 can start fasting. Parents should ensure that children take necessary nutrients so their performances are not affected.
Letting children choose what they wish to eat for a pre-dawn meal, bringing them for dinner if they manage to fast at least for half a day, encourages them to continue fasting voluntarily. Teachers in preschools may prepare refreshing foods if children happen to break their fast in school.
Hence, Hari Raya Aidilfitri promotes self-control as Muslims obey the fundamentals of fasting or replacement for the missed-out days is required.
Hari Raya teaches us the significance of coming together as a family to celebrate this auspicious occasion. From motivating each other to fast to cooking signature dishes and cleaning the house, this value emphasises that indeed, sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.
Carrying out responsibilities together enable family members and relatives to converse with one another. For example, cousins can become closer by helping each other out in weaving ketupat leaves.
4. Balancing traditional and modern
When we talk about Hari Raya, we have images of mosque visits, making dodol and rendang, and receiving (or giving) duit raya. These are some of Hari Raya Aidifitri’s traditions in Malaysia.
Simply by celebrating Hari Raya, we actually represent the culture we have inherited from our ancestors.
Restrictions such as the Movement Control Order should not be a reason to neglect these traditions as we can now rely on digital solutions to stay connected.
Social media, for example, are great tools to virtually meet and greet our family members beyond borders.
Teaching Hari Raya Values in Schools
Two of the most important values that cover many aspects in life are empathy and self-control.
Conducting role plays in the classroom with specific scenarios, asking questions and reading stories like Feelings by Aliki to children are step stones in introducing empathy.
For instance, if a girl does not want to take turns bouncing the ball during playtime with her friend, her teacher can ask, “If you were your friend right now, how would you feel to be treated this way?”
It is easier to teach children to be understanding by putting themselves in the shoes of others.
Children hone self-control as they grow and struggle with delayed gratification. James Clear, the author of the New York Times bestseller, pinpointed many pieces of research that have proven children with good delayed gratification scores higher in life measures (academic, emotional and physical).
The ability to control themselves leads a path to better-delayed gratification.
Since Muslims practise fasting, delaying gratification is practised as well. Therefore, when it comes to rewarding our children, we can use the same principle.
Let’s say your children pass the exam with flying colours and want to get play doughs from their piggy bank. Perhaps, let them know if they are willing to wait for a little longer by saving more money, they get to go for a mini-vacation.
Consequently, they will understand the importance of saving money and that waiting patiently awards them with the better results rather than giving in to their desires earlier.
Teachers can explain what self-control is and describe acts children have practised in preschools, like not eating until break time.
Hari Raya Aidilfitri has a number of values that can potentially shape a human being. The values gained should be enforced in our everyday life and not only during the festival. The roots of Hari Raya should not be forgotten and to be preserved for the upcoming generations to have a sense of belonging and to know their identity.
In light of this pandemic, massive gatherings are prohibited, but a celebration among household members are allowed. Grab this chance to get closer to your loved ones.