Those Absurd Things We Do in Hari Raya

I spent 10 days wandering around Peninsula Malaysia, bouncing back and forth Banting and Teluk Intan, while squeezing in a visit to Orthopedic and MRI (but that’s another story..). I’m blessed that we got to celebrate Hari Raya with the loved ones at both places, experiencing low to no traffic jams (I love this), and reconnecting with distant relatives that we’ll see only once in a year.

Although all is well, I intend to have a 10/10 Hari Raya experience in the future. Thus, I came back with renewed vengeance for some absurd things we do in the excuse of Hari Raya, mostly as a reminder to myself.

The cool part? I have thought hard of the solutions as well.

Perfect.

Take these 4 absurd things we do in Hari Raya and how to get over it.

1. Spending Frivolously.

While I thought the ghost of spending-like-crazy me had mostly gone, I am dead wrong.

Days leading up to Hari Raya were bad days for shopping (although I admit the fun!). I overspent from a tiny planned budget of RM300 to RM670! What was supposedly a light stroll to find a blazer for the Toastmaster’s meeting and a few, err, private part enclosures quickly snowballed into mini-wardrobe changing exercise.

What I gathered from the others, this was generally the norm for Hari Raya. When Hari Raya came, suddenly the switch was flipped ON and numerous items required to be bought instantly.

Worse of all, having to buy a new Hari Raya clothing every year. I couldn’t fathom this requirement. It’s the worse way to utilize your money if you already had a good clothing from last year. Save for a few occasions, this clothing will mostly be inside the closet. I realized this absurdity back in 2013 and I never bought new clothing for Hari Raya anymore. I might buy a new one later but it will only after I donate the previous ones.

The solutions:

  • No shopping while fasting. It’s a sure way to overspend.
  • Stick really hard to the planned shopping list. I recommend this list to only contain things you had already listed for at least 3 months.
  • Stop buying Baju Raya if the previous ones are still in good pristine condition. You can only have 1 set of Baju Raya (or 3 sets in case of ladies). Donate the excesses if you want to buy new ones.

2. Serving Soft Drinks.

soft drinks

This might be the biggest offend during the supposedly nurturing days.

The caveat was simple; a lot of people coming and soft drinks are by far the easiest solution.

It’s cheap, and easy to prepare.

Bullshit.

While it’s true that serving an ideal healthy drinks like avocados will certainly drains your energy and money, there’s another way to be healthy and doesn’t kill people. See solutions for faster, cheaper alternatives.

But wait, what about the soft drinks that warrants such hatred? For a start, they have an excessive levels of empty calories. A can of coke contains 140 calories. Assuming that this is the only amount you took all day long – a 17 minute jogging to burn off the calories is in order. If you don’t, then don’t be surprised of the bad things coming your way.

The excessive sugar (39g for the same can as before) is already half of the recommended daily intake of sugar level. Diabetes, expanding waistline (sugar jacks up the insulin causing your body to flip into fat storage mode), crash in energy level after momentary jolts. The list is endless.

The solution:

  • Give up soft drinks, and replace it with cheaper & healthier alternatives. Try lemon drink or good Green Tea. If you’re visiting others house, be prepared with your own plain water. No excuse!
  • This mantra works for me; ‘If You Don’t Like Your Kid, Give Soft Drinks to Them’

3. Disconnecting during Ziarah.

Ziarah is the practice we do during Hari Raya to connect with relatives or friends. It’s great except that it’s quickly becoming a disconnecting exercise if we are not careful.

There’s a funny whatsapp messages circulating during Ramadhan citing that with the chronic love relationship we had with phones, perhaps no more food required during the open house, an RM5 top-up and WiFi will do the job! This is not only millennials issue, as we can see baby boomers are not spared from this acute attention deficit disease.

Phone is only one of the things that swayed our attention.

The other absurd thing I see during much of the visiting rituals to distant relatives, was how we spend more time disconnecting (either on our phone and by ourselves).

The visit would be a trite exercise just for showing up and announcing our mere existence (which is sad). Of the 3 houses I visited on Hari Raya, folks played and talk within themselves rather connecting with the host. Things becoming less meaningful when you had another 5 more houses to go.

The Solutions:

  • Be the change that you want to see in the world. Start to be genuinely interested in other people. Think of the wealth of experiences and challenges of the elders that you could learn from. Curiously asking the relationship – if they are distant relatives.
  • Don’t be there if you didn’t want to. Your time are more valuable rather than being mediocre visitor to some distant cousin you don’t want to meet. Do the Most Important Things instead.
  • Practice being intentional and limit the houses for Hari Raya ziarah. The depth of connection is the key, not the quantity.

4. Over-Glorifying Duit Raya Factor.

Part of the appeals for Hari Raya is the Duit Raya. It’s the ‘angpau’ equivalent meant for children and anyone who (still) didn’t work. Having said that, Duit Raya for parents and siblings are not rare either.

The absurdity around this connotation is when we use it as the sole motivator to kids to do everything. I heard again and again, that you need to ask the kids to get ready for the day to gather Duit Raya. It creates a money-centred relationship and hugely damaging scarcity mindset (if you don’t get Duit Raya, no hope for you).

While I admit this is a deep pervasive thinking that has become part of our culture, it’s still our duty to limit the effect to our kids.

The Solutions:

  • Start with YOUR kids. Waking up to Hari Raya to know the relatives (not for getting Duit Raya). Shaking hands with the hosts as gratitude for having us – the visitors (not for getting Duit Raya).
  • Teach the kids what should they do for the Duit Raya (installing sense of purpose).

Make no mistake that I loved Hari Raya. It’s the best celebration and we hugely enjoyed the different facets of them.But it doesn’t hurt to make it better.

Selamat Hari Raya!

What was the other absurd things you’ve seen during Hari Raya?

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