Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Second Day .."Attitude is a small thing that makes a big difference".

In previous years this event was held at the house in Sungai Pinang but this year it was decided that only close family and relatives were invited to join and the venue was at the Sunshine Hotel. It was fun but not as merry as it has been where almost the whole neighborhood had turned up for the occasion.

It most probably was due to budget constraints as there is in the planning two or three weddings to happen in the ver y near future within the family. The event has also become primarily the Merikan family gathering which sees mostly my late uncle's Isahak Merikan' children and grand children and maybe great grand children too. This trimming down of the festivity to include only close relatives is understandable but it will reflect upon the overall status of the family name in the community.

It was also the coming together of the two sides of the family as my late uncle had married two wives and both were equally productive in procreation. 

I was a guest as always and did my share of entertaining and being there in the moment to make things more cheerful for the others. As is said in Buddhism, existing for the benefit of other beings. It was a good venue that reflects class but must have cost a bit of a fortune which to me could have been well spent if it had been done at the house as in previous years, but tribal and clan makes up for a good support system in this day and age where one may need to depend on family more so than before.

I was asked to be the jury for the selection of the King and queen of the evening. This is the climax of the Aidil Fitri Celebration more or less for most Muslim families all over, however in some cases there are a few more get together and open houses where friends are invited to the home to share in the festivities especially those of the other ethnic backgrounds. Hence this event has now taken on a new phase from an open house to closed one and which eventually become for members only. 

Marissa, did her best to fit in and most probably had more fun than she bargained for.
“That's what people do who love you. They put their arms around you and love you when you're not so lovable.” 
― Deb Caletti

Picture with my favorite cousins. People in general do not ask or expect much out you but to just be nice and if possible more caring and loving. It is all it takes to become a member of the family if not the nation itself, so if you stop placing too much value upon yourself you might become the most popular guy in the neighborhood.
“You must remember, family is often born of blood, but it doesn't depend on blood. Nor is it exclusive of friendship. Family members can be your best friends, you know. And best friends, whether or not they are related to you, can be your family.” 
― Trenton Lee StewartThe Mysterious Benedict Society

With, Ahmad Kalam, my niece and her family if your presence gives those who look up to you some sense of comfort or even confidence why not be there for that reason; become the symbol of hope and courage for the little ones just like the bulls that stand guard  over the herd in the forest become their model.
― Jon KrakauerInto the Wild

Karim and Marissa enjoying the evening seeking out their own corners away from the rest .I have done most of what i could to instill in my children the fact of interdependence we should have with one another and the fact that we exist for the benefit of others as a great virtue to practice but...As much as i would love to disappear and live in the jungle or mountain somewhere away from it all, a greater part of me tells me that i am needed where i am to my role as being who I am in the scheme of things.
For there is no friend like a sister in calm or stormy weather; To cheer one on the tedious way, to fetch one if one goes astray, to lift one if one totters down, to strengthen whilst one stands.

With the 'terrors' from Balik Pulau, Suhana's daughters Rabiaton and shiken, my late brother Gina's grand daughters who he never got to see.
To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there.

The third addition to the family  The most common greetings that one receives whoever you meet is Selamat Hari Raya or something like Merry Christmas. Then Maaf Zahir dan batin, which implies, forgiveness in both physical as well as spiritual outer or inner wrong doings  that might have occured throughout the year. Then there is the Halakan yang termakan dan minum, which says to make it kosher for all that we ate and drink at the other's expense. Islam has made it simple these acts of humility and cleansing of relationships between young and old. At gathering like these one is reminded of one's connectedness to others.

My nephew Husin and his family. Nora is my second eldest brother's daughter and married to Husin formerly from Myamar. hey have four children, with Shukri, Sha, Haikal and Amira.

":You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them." ..Desmond Tutu

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Next came the visit to close friends and relatives.

Immediately after returrning from the mosque it was time to start gobbling down food, no more fasting, life is back to being decadent and wasteful among other regular habits that fast creeps right back into the routine.

Visiting neighbors and friends is one way to find what is cooking  other than what is available in one's own house and off course it is also a time for the renewal o friendship. We wish each other the best of health and prosperity yada, yada! Then we sat down and consume food and beverages until we sprout bulges and rashes all over. 

my neighbor's son Annuar who is a kind of a weez kid with the computer and such gadgets lie the camera.  One thing you can say about my fellow countrymen, they are colorful, they dress with colors and decorate their homes with colors.

Nice to be able to kick back and take it easy every now ans then especially after a whole fasting month.
Dropped by some friends by the Fishing village to hand out 'Duit Raya' or Raya money for the less fortunate.

Visited my cousin sister and more food consumed. while entertained and being entertained by my nieces.

The Aidil Fitri, like Christmas is a celebration for children as they enjoyed it the most being fed and receiving pocket money from most of the adults they come into contact with. Unlike Christmas where they kids received gifts from Santa which is being laid underneath the Christmas tree,  here the gift is in the form of money. it is really not such a great way  of sharing with kids but it has become a tradition and so one goes to the bank and make sure you get enough small change for the occasion. 

I am sharing  brief account of what ti is like to celebrate the month of Ramadan which includes the fasting as well as what goes on in my comunity of Muslim Malays for the benefit of those who have no idea of what it is like. I am also sharing with my readers people, simple folks young and old in their everyday life. 

They are fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers just like the rest of mankind all over the world and they live day to day seeking happiness for themselves and their loved ones and that is about it. Thus far Malaysians have enjoyed a more or less peaceful existence and i hope it stays that way for a longer time yet.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Sembahyang Hari Raya was next on the Agenda.

Upon return from the grave and paying our repect tour our dear departed the next trip was to the special prayer at the mosque. The Masjid Jamik at Sungai Pinang is where i do most of my Friday prayers as well as on this special day of Aidil  Fitri and i have always been one of the earliest to arrive most of the time unless i forget that it was Friday. This mosque is an upgraded version of the original which i grew up with in the early fifties and sixties.

Caught this elderly gntleman and later learned that he was originally from Rawalpindi in Pakistan. Sitting a little way away is another early bird who looked like he too could have come from Pakistan. These guys are very relaxed while sitting in the mosque waiting for things to happen, it seems like they are very much at home being there.

The elderly gentleman is saying his prayer silently while counting his beads a very strong meditative practice which i do too but without the beads. I usually sit in Zazen while repeating the word 'Allah" to the beat of my heart untill the actual prayer begins.

A young gentleman came and joined us and did hiw 'Sunnat prayer', a prayer one performs as a introduction into being in the mosque, like sayig hello Lord here i am in Your house and Your presence.

I always am in the first row most of the time when i go to the mosque simply because then i do not have to look or wonder what or who is behind me and that way i can keep a better focus on what i do.  The 'Mimbar' or dais where the Imam preacehes from is right in the middle.

When I looked behind me to take this picture i saw that my childhood friend Najib was sitting right behind me, we were very close in our younger days. The guy who is camera shy lives a few doors from where i live here..

I was not sure if i should or could take pictures so i risked it and took a few shots as the mosque was getting filled up to the capacity. I see fammiliar faces and knew that i was among friends whenever i sat in the mosque as this gentleman though i know not his name we grew up in the village together.

There are a good number men from Bangladesh in this mosque. The ladies pray from the second floor of the building where the blue partition is. 

My cousin Ahmad Kalam is another character who likes to come in early and occupy the front line. He is the guy in the gold colored Baju Melayu of Maqlay Shirt. Muslims stand shoulder to shoulder when praying in a congregation and the lines are called 'saf'. It is inapropriate to have any gaps in between two people when in prayer as it allows for the penetration of the unseen beings ever ready to cause a disruption in the congregation.

The Few things we do on Hari Raya Aidil Fitri.

Visiting those who been laid to rest is the first thing we do after the 'Subuh Prayer' or the early morning prayer. This visit is to remind us of those who have left us and those whose lives had  been responsible for our being here in the first place. To me it is also a sobering reminder of the impermanence of life and that at time soon i would be joining them resting here six feet more or less on top of one of them as the space here is getting very tight. 

The cemetery is also a very sobering place to reflect upon how much or far or how near we have come to being prepared to face our Maker and for all the hoopla we have created while being alive it all seems not worth a dime if and when you look at the grave stones standing cold even when painted with bright colors.

This is where my grand parents were laid to rest many years ago and last to join them was my second eldest brother Yahaya or Jaya as he was known to us. My cousin sister is scattering flowers  over the graves of my uncle, the one who raised me as an adopted child and my eldest auntie better know as Mak Timah Bidan the most well known individual among most who needed the services of a midwife in the early forties, fifties sixties and seventies. She was my cousin's mother and my grandfather had adopted her as a child. 

That's me doing my thing while being watched by my cousin brother Ahmad Kalam who had been my spiritual guide and companion throughout this fasting month.

On this particular day many of the citiy's poor and destitute sat along the path throughout the grave yard waiting for alms from the visitors.

Ahmad Kalam saying a prayer over the grave of his father in law, my uncle and husband to the midwife. He was laid to rest at a different location nearer to his house which is next to the cemetery.

My cousin sister Azizah Merikan pointing at this or that making her comments over this or that as she always does. This is one of the oldest Muslim burial ground in Penang and definitely the most colorful. Insha' Allah if and when I die I hope that i can find a place here among my ancestors even if the place is overly crowded, at least i will never feel lonely.

'Pasar Ramadan" or where all that food comes from.

The hardest part of the fasting during the day is the last hour or so when you have to figure out what to eat and the pangs waiting that lst few minutes. The food usually comes from the "Pasar Ramadan which sprouts all over the country practically like it is the food bazaar and you can get all you need to break your fast with. Sugar cane drinks  is one of the most popular driks during the month of Ramadan.

There is all kinds of cakes and spicy tit bits for your eyes to ponder upon and your tummy to growl for. It is interesting to note how during the fasting month your appetite is so enhance that you buy and buy whatever you see and end up throwing away ost of what you buy because you cannot finish them.

The "MUrtabak" is another very popular choice, a 'Roti" wrapped up with meat inside. 

Mostly found in Penang , The Po-piah is like your egg roll but not fried and is filled with vegetables mostly.

'Cory' my sone Katim's close buddy hs his stall selling mostly home made cookies.

'Cucor rendang' more or less like fried dumplings.

My favorite 'Buka Puasa' or break fast fruit!

The mangoes were sweet i found out later, the purple colored fruits are called mangstines and one of my most favorite fruits all time.

'Kelapa Laut' is a species of the palm fruit like the distant brother of the coconut. It is quite refreshing i found out later too.

'Roti Sorai' is a softe bread made in the form of a net and is eaten with a specially made curry.

Drinks comes in all colors and is a must during the fasting month.