A new way to celebrate
Celebrations may be different but traditions remain the same
They may not be together physically to celebrate Hari Raya this year due to the current restrictions on travelling, but many Malaysians will still be meeting up with their families and loved ones — through video chats and phone calls. In his address to the nation, the yang di-Pertuan agong praised Malaysians for displaying high discipline, perseverance and patience throughout the MCO period.
Hari Raya Aidilfitri will be a lonely affair for former postmaster Yussoff Johar and wife Wan Chah Wan Chik as they will miss having their four children and eight grandchildren.
Yussoff and Wan Chah, both 65, said it would be especially melancholy for them even though they acknowledged that the separation was necessary due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We accept the fact that this Hari Raya Aidilfitri will not be the same as before,” said Yussoff.
He said his four children live in Serdang, Puchong, Setia Alam and Melaka with their own families and hoped to be back in Penang to celebrate.
But because of the interstate travel ban, the trips were cancelled.
“Our home will be a bit quiet without our grandchildren running in and out of the house,” he said.
Wan Chah said she only made ketupat and their children’s favourite rendang and a few varieties of cookies.
She said her children couriered Raya cookies a few days ago.
She said she decided not to cook dodol as their children would not be with them.
“Normally, they would all be here to help us, but since they are not here, we decided to skip the dodol,” she said.
Wan Chah said they would celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri with close relatives and neighbours in Kampung Bukit Kechik here.
She hoped the pandemic would be over soon and they could meet their children again.
“I hope we can all see each other soon,” she said.
PETALING JAYA: Separated by state lines and travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, video calls are the only way Malaysians can see their loved ones face-to-face this Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
It is how Mohd Hafizzudin Masuut, 32, will be communicating this Raya with his youngest brother and their mother, who are both at the quarantine centre at Sarawak General Hospital after testing positive for Covid-19 in late April.
As his mother and brother battle the virus, Hafizzudin’s family is also grieving for their father Masuut Norawai @ Norani, 61, who succumbed to Covid-19 on April 1.
“My mother’s test results just came out – she is still positive.
“My brother, who recently tested negative, continues to be quarantined at the hospital for 14 days,” said Hafizzudin.
In total, nine people in his family, including relatives from Hafizzudin’s late father’s side, tested positive for the virus; four family members are currently still at the quarantine centre.
For this Raya, Hafizzudin, a maintenance supervisor at Petronas who lives in Shah Alam, will just have a small gathering with two of his siblings.
“We will call our family members in Sarawak via video.
“Raya feels very odd this year. We had such joyful Raya celebrations as a family in Sarawak in years past,” said the second of five children.
Hafizzudin remembered Masuut as a taciturn and firm but affectionate father, a doting grandfather to his three grandchildren and an active member of society.
“He always did his best to fulfil his family’s wishes,” he said, adding that his parents were both retired civil servants.
For salesperson Sirajuddin Nordin, 49, what he would miss most while celebrating Raya in the new normal was meeting family members, sharing hugs and pressing palms on the special day.
“This year’s Raya will be very different and everyone is deeply affected,” he said.
Sirajuddin, who lives in Sepang, now uses video calls to exchange Raya greetings with his relatives in Ipoh, among others, as interstate travelling is barred.
“This is Raya in the new normal. I will have my in-laws visit my house during Raya but there won’t be many of them, of course.
“They are also concerned about the virus and we will all be taking precautionary steps.
“We’ve already reminded each other to avoid hugging and pressing palms as much as possible,” he added.
Raya this year is also being celebrated amid an economic downturn as many Malaysians grapple with uncertainties at the workplace.
Sirajuddin, who works at a vehicle dealership, said his workplace could not operate for months during the movement control order (MCO) period and while he had returned to work recently, it has not been the same.
“We could not operate for months during the MCO period so employees were put on leave and we recently started returning to work.
“Raya is also different this year because we got only three days off at work compared to a week in previous years.
“Anyway, it’s okay to get only three days off because we can’t even celebrate much, and we can’t go freely wherever we want to,” he said.
Down memory lane: yussoff and Wan Chah viewing old photos with their children through video call at their home in Balik Pulau, Penang.
Closer than ever: Hafizzudin and his family in Shah Alam celebrating Hari Raya with relatives living in Kuching, through a video conference.