Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims around the world. They are required to fast from dawn till dusk. Doing so can be quite challenging, for every Muslim across the globe. In Malaysia the weather is the biggest challenge. Sometimes it could be piercingly hot or it might rain heavily for a long period of time. Uncertain weather changes do have their effect on our health. However, we are lucky compared to some countries that have even longer fasting hours. Malaysia is known as a holistic-integrated implementation of modern life. It’s an Islamic country, with a multiracial community. More than half of the population is Muslim, originating from various races. Ramadan is a period to which many people look forward.
Ramadan for Everyone
Ramadan is celebrated by every citizen. The lights of Ramadan encourage the highest tolerance during this season. In Ramadan, most companies allow shorter operating hours, taking into account their Muslim employees so they can be home early for iftar preparation. Many are given this privilege, yet most of them will be joining fellow Muslims at the most awaited Bazaar Ramadan, instead of going straight home. Together they enjoy the rich choice of food available. They could also head to the Ramadan buffet. They are spoiled with plenty of opportunities in Ramadan.
Here, you can feel Ramadan is coming as early as a week before it is announced by the local authorities. The decoration and the overwhelming eid preparations before Ramadan come much earlier compared to other countries. In some states, the ruler or the king declares the first day of Ramadan as a public holiday in order to welcome this holy month. On national level, you will see a massive amount of decorations in the main streets and buildings around every states’ largest cities, joined by the shopping malls. Even the most corporate buildings will be decorated with beautiful decorative lightings to highlight the presence of Ramadan and to acknowledge we are approaching Eid al-Fitr. This is the beauty about Ramadan in Malaysia. We get to perform the fasting month naturally or be spoiled by the numerous exotic foods at Bazaar Ramadan and Buffet Ramadan. More importantly: how diversity in our country is cherished and how highest tolerance is well represented.
During this month the masjids’ daily activities increase tremendously. The management will organize activities like Tarawih, Iftar, and Tazkirah, and fund raising is to be given mostly to the needy and in order to support the masjid’s extra activities. Most masjids around Malaysia will receive enormous donations to support all activities, and to help prepare Bubur Lambuk for the whole of Ramadan. The return of Malaysian signature Bubur Lambuk is the most anticipated event. It’s a special porridge cooked with coconut milk, meat, condiment, and spices. It’s a heavy meal for iftar. Good enough to feed the needy. That was exactly the reason it was created over a decade ago by Masjid Jamek in Kg. Baru, Kuala Lumpur. Since then every masjid around the nation participated to this good cause to support the unfortunate.
We Malaysians love our Bazaar Ramadan. This is where everyone will come to buy exotic food like Nasi Kerabu, Pulut Panggang, and special drinks that are not usually found on normal days. I can assure you no one can finish tasting all the food and drinks that are offered at the Bazaar, thanks to the diversity in culture in Malaysia. At the Bazaar you can also find other things, ranging from apparel to rotan rocking chairs.
First Day of Ramadan
Now that the most missed month of the year is finally here, everyone in my family looks forward to the first day where we will get together for iftar at our parents’ place and pray together afterwards. Another one is the last few days where we will be preparing the food and decorate the family house for the coming Eid-al-Fitr. Most important to us is not just the delicious food we prepare together, but the time spent having everyone around from the elderly in the family to the younger, welcoming the holy month.
What you will usually see on the table of Malaysians, including our table during iftar, are dates, fruits, and other traditional snacks like Pulut Udang, Cara Berlauk, Buah Melak, or Kuih Bakar, served both as starters and desserts. For the main course there is white rice eaten together with dishes such as Asam Pedas, Ayam Perchik, Rendang, or Masak Lemak Cili Api and Ulam (a local type of salad eaten with aspecial chili paste call ‘sambal’), or a vegetable mix, stirred or made into soup, on the side. As for desserts, the mouthwatering sweet traditional desserts will be Somsom, Cendol, or Bubur Pulut Hitam and many more, are just a normal sight on the table. Another thing you must have on the table are the special local drinks like Air Tebu or Sirap Bandung Selasih. Don’t worry about the bizarre food names we have in Malaysia. I’ve shared some pictures for your eyes to enjoy almost as much as we enjoy eating it.