For Mohd Elipi Sien, 28, a merchandiser at a food manufacturing company in Johor Baru, his wife, Nur Hasanah Aridin, 28, and their eight-month-old son, this year's Hari Raya Haji will be extra festive when they balik kampung to visit his parents. Elipi’s parents live in Muar with his two sisters.
Since they weren’t able to go back during Hari Raya Aidilfitri in May, Mohd Elipi and his family will be preparing dishes which they usually only serve during Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
“Hari Raya Haji will be very different this year. I’ll be giving duit raya to my relatives’ children which I usually do during Hari Raya Aidilfitri. But since we weren’t able to see them then, we’re doing this during Hari Raya Haji, ” says Mohd Elipi.
“We’ll also carry out our Aidilfitri tradition of making ikan masak asam pedas and burasak (a type of rice dumpling) as well as other traditional dishes like rendang, kuah kacang, sayur lodeh, ketupat and lemang, ” he adds excitedly.
“Burasak is our family recipe, a tradition in Bugis culture, ” he reveals.
Mohd Elipi reckons that many of his friends will balik kampung for Hari Raya Haji even if they don’t normally do so simply because they weren’t able to for Hari Raya Aidilfitri due to the movement control order.
“Many haven’t seen their family (parents) back in their hometown for a long time, ” he says.
“But for those who do balik kampung for the celebrations, don’t forget to practise social distancing and take the necessary precautions, ” he advises.
New SOP during Hari Raya Haji includes limiting the number of people in a house to 20 as well as a cap on the number of animals (only up to 10 at mosques, surau or other designated locations) for korban (sacrificial rites) at any one location. Feasts are also not allowed at the korban sites.
The new SOP, said Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob earlier this week, is in light of the risk of Covid-19 infections re-emerging. Those who are still under home quarantine, will not be allowed to leave the house, including for balik kampung or for the Aidiladha prayers. They are also not to receive guests.
For Mohd Elipi, this year’s festivities will be even more special because he will be celebrating it with his newborn son.
“My father will be doing a korban for my son who will be one later this year, but of course, we’ll be following all the SOP, ” he says.
“Usually after solat (prayers), we’ll prepare for this. I remember from when I was a child how the menfolk in the kampung would perform the korban. It was an exciting experience. This year, I will be involved in it too, ” he says.
While Elipi and his family feel that it’s OK to balik kampung to see their parents and stay on as a sort of “staycation”, he says that he won’t be taking his son out to busy public places like shopping malls just yet.
“We'll also make sure that there aren’t too many people at my parents’ home because we still need to practise social distancing, ” he says.
Balik kampung but stay safe
Mohd Izal Mahd Nor, 42, feels that while families are starting to travel domestically to balik kampung during this season, it’s very important to observe the SOPs of the new normal when doing so.
Mohd Izal and his wife, Hafzamliza Ramli, 38, who are both KL-based, have balik kampung together with their children for Hari Raya Haji.
This is the second time that Mohd Izal, who works with Tourism Malaysia, and his wife Hafzamliza, a teacher, are back in their hometown since the MCO started in March. Their first time was during the recovery MCO period.
“We’re very excited to be back in our hometown because we never miss celebrating Aidilfitri and Aidiladha with our families in Penang every year, except for the most recent Aidilfitri during the conditional MCO, ” he says.
Their parents' homes in Penang are just 15 minutes away from each other and their four children - aged 12, nine, seven and three - are very excited to see their grandparents.
This Aidiladha, their family is taking the necessary precautions to stay safe.
“We’ll only visit our parents’ homes. We won’t be visiting other relatives, ” Mohd Izal reveals.
They are also following the SOPs for Korban.
“We’re having the ceremony outside instead of at the mosque and each family has a different time slot for social distancing reasons. We have two sheep for korban and we’ll be distributing the meat to family members, neighbours, and the needy, ” he says.
“And of course, when in public areas, we wear face masks, avoid crowds and use hand sanitiser, ” he adds.
They are having their family’s traditional dishes such as nasi arab and lamb mandy.
For Kuala Lumpur-based Ain Nadjwa Idzwanna Akasah, 24, balik kampung is an exciting time to see family. But this year, she admits that she feels anxious going back to her hometown because of the pandemic.
She has just she returned to her hometown Pekan, Pahang, a week ago for her niece’s one-year-old birthday celebration – her first time back home since the MCO was implemented in March.
“I travelled by bus and felt uneasy about taking public transport.
“The bus station was a bit packed with people queueing up to buy tickets and all, ” she says. “But the bus company followed all the SOPs set by the government – they practiced social distancing and temperature scanning. All the passengers also had to wear their masks on board the bus, ” says Ain Nadjwa, who is a graduate trainee in publishing.
As she lives by herself, she is really looking forward to being with her family – her parents, two elder brothers and a sister, as well as a brother-in-law, a sister-in-law, and two nieces – in Pekan, Pahang, this Hari Raya Haji.
This year, Hari Raya Haji will be slightly different but no less special, Ain says.
“Normally, the men in the family will go and help with the korban while the women will prepare the food at home.
“But this year, the new SOP for korban limits the number of people at the event, so my father, brothers and brother-in-law will not be going. After solat (prayers) at the mosque, they will come straight home. We’re also worried about our father’s health because he’s old already. He’s 61, ” she says.
The family will still, however, enjoy their Hari Raya Haji traditional meal of ketupat and rendang daging all cooked by Ain’s parents at home.
Ain believes that beating the pandemic is everyone’s social responsibility and each person has to do his or her part, especially when going out and in public spaces.
“I hope that everyone can follow all the new guidelines that the government has set and that people will be responsible and take the virus outbreak seriously because we’re not really safe yet, ” she concludes.
Balik kampung for Hari Raya Haji
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