As the days of Ramadan quickly pass by, the holy month draws nearer to a close. All too soon the presence of Ramadan will have graced and left us, with only the anticipation for next year’s Ramadan to build again. But with the end of this holy month, comes the eve of Syawal to take its place.
For the first few days of the Syawal month, Muslims are abuzz with the celebrations of Hari Raya Aidilfitri or Eid al-Fitr that mark the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Before celebrating Eid, there are a few preparations that can be made for the family to welcome the start of Syawal. Here, we offer some suggestions that may help you prepare for this joyous occasion with the family.
- Bake Raya kuih and cookies
Every year, mouth-watering snacks and goodies are the highlights of every open house. This year, to prepare for the kuih Raya bonanza, it’s a great idea to get the whole family involved! Make it a family affair by including and delegating the work amongst all family members. Make an assortment of homemade sweet treats that the whole family will enjoy from honey cornflakes and pineapple tarts to kuih makmur and kuih semprit.
- Cook Raya food
Some Raya delicacies are only available or enjoyed during the festive period and this makes it all the more special. After a month of abstaining from food and drink, it comes as no surprise that Muslims look forward to indulging in all the food the Eid month has to offer.
As opposed to purchasing food from vendors and catering services, take this time as an opportunity to learn old family recipes from your senior loved ones. Gather the family to make Raya delicacies such as nasi impit, rendang and even learn to weave ketupat together.
- DIY arts and crafts
This year, add some creativity and fun to the joyful celebrations at home. Dedicate some time with the family to make personalised greeting cards, home decorations or even customised duit Raya packets. Alternatively, use this time to get senior loved ones to embrace the digital age and become more tech-savvy. The Eid month is a great time to teach seniors to make online greeting cards, video calls to connect with loved ones and safely navigate the online world. Do remember to take it slow and practise patience when helping loved ones. In the end, it is about spending time with the family and bonding over a fun activity.
- Clean and decorate the house
Whether or not you plan to have a small number of guests over for the occasion, keeping the house clean and in order is essential. Create a warm yet lively atmosphere by thoroughly cleaning and sprucing up the house. Add some festive flair by decorating the house with hanging ketupat garlands, stringing illuminating lights or putting up glowing lampu pelita.
With this in mind, be sure to make all decorations and furniture arrangements safe for elderly loved ones. Check out our guide on how to make your home safe for seniors where we cover every inch of a home.
- Set the Raya mood
Music can be a powerful influence on the mind and body. Simply listening to music can elevate the cognitive function, emotion and mood of older adults thus enhancing wellbeing and social connections. Therefore, this festive season, get in the celebratory mood by playing Eid songs around the house. Incorporate favourites from all family members and fill a playlist with the latest and greatest Raya hits.
- Share Raya stories
Our parents and elderly loved ones are full of stories to tell. This Eid period, reminisce in the compelling stories they share and the memories they hold dear.
Ask elders about their past experiences such as their favourite Eid stories and what the festive season was like for them growing up. Listen to their stories and encourage conversation and interaction to keep them sharing. Bring out old photo albums to help jog their memory and spark more conversations on what past Eid celebrations were like.
In this process, learn a bit more about your ancestry and familial traditions while feeling more connected and closer to them.
Raya: A time for family
The arrival of Eid indicates the conclusion of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, yet the spirit of connection and togetherness lingers on. The end of the fasting month also brings about the chance to start afresh. Thus, the significance of this period should not be overshadowed by food, fun and festivities.
It is a chance for family and friends to strengthen bonds and reconnect. We must remember to seek forgiveness from our elders, atone for all our wrongdoings and strive to do better in the future. As a bonus, take this time as an opportunity to cherish, appreciate and spend time with loved ones.
- Ferreri, L., Moussard, A., Bigand, E., Schellenberg, E. G., Ferreri, L., & Moussard, A. (2019). Music and the aging brain. In Thaut, M. H. & Hodges, D. A. (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Music and the Brain (pp. 622-644). https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198804123.013.25
- Demiray, B., Mischler, M., & Martin, M. (2019). Reminiscence in everyday conversations: a naturalistic observation study of older adults. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, 74(5), 745-755. https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbx141