Stars like Shila Amzah, Forteen, Aizat Amdan and Halim Othman reveal their most memorable Hari Raya moments.
With Hari Raya just a few days away, some of the local entertainment industry’s most prominent faces and voices spill the beans on their most memorable experiences, favourite dishes and their plans for the upcoming Syawal.
Singing sensation Shila Amzah recalled a time when her family celebrated Hari Raya with nothing but each other.
“I was about 13 at that time. My dad’s business suffered a drop. We couldn’t afford to have a normal Raya like other people. We didn’t have any new Baju Raya. We didn’t go back to our hometowns,” revealed the 24-year-old Malaysian vocalist who has been making waves in China after appearing on two Chinese reality singing competitions in the last two years.
“We would tell one side of the family that we were celebrating Raya with the other side of the family and vice versa. But actually, we just stayed at home. And when people came over to visit, we just sat still because we had nothing to offer them,” she continued.
Shila’s father, the popular 1980s singer ND Lala, chimed in: “But looking back, we realised that situation was a blessing in disguise. It brought our family closer.”
He also revealed he was RM1.3mil in debt at the time and the family of six was chased out of their house and had to move seven times within the same neighbourhood, as they could not pay rent.
“We had nothing but we had our family. That’s all that matters. Maybe we just had one nasi lemak, but with my family around me, all six of us could just share,” the Patah Seribu singer reflected.
Shila, who currently resides in Beijing, will be back home in Hulu Langat, Selangor for the festivities for just two days this year. The singer will fly to Shanghai on the second day of Raya to make preparations for her solo concert in China on Aug 16.
Comprising Ariz, Ameer, Izzue Islam and One, the boys of local pop quartet Forteen reminisce their most indelible Hari Raya experiences.
“My late great grandfather used to give us duit raya in the form of 10 sen coins. We used to complain a lot but looking back, I realise that was a sincere gesture from him,” recalled Ariz, 25.
Meanwhile, One, 24, has fond memories of making Hari Raya confections. “We don’t do it anymore since my grandfather passed away. But I remember the atmosphere where all my relatives stirred the dodol mixture together at night,” he shared.
Ameer, 23, also particularly enjoys the experience of communal cooking and eating, inviting his relatives and former schoolmates to a barbecue. “I gained 5kg last year!” he exclaimed.
For the 24-year-old newly married Izzue Islam, celebrating Hari Raya with his wife’s family for the first time last year was definitely an unforgettable experience.
“It was so festive and lively, as my wife’s family in Klang joined my family from Kelantan for the celebration. There were so many people and I love a big family,” he enthused.
Siti Saleha has a lot to be grateful for this Hari Raya.
The 24-year-old actress won the coveted titles – Most Popular TV Actress and Most Popular Film Actress – at the recent Anugerah Bintang Popular Berita Harian.
“ABPBH is a huge thing among us artistes. It’s not easy being nominated,” said Siti, who received nods in both categories last year but failed to clinch either award.
“I’m truly blessed with the characters I have played and grateful that the audience loved every performance.”
Siti, who is of Malay-English parentage, shot to fame in 2011 after starring opposite Aaron Aziz in the popular drama, Nora Elena. The actress now appears in Ramadan Jangan Pergi where her character Farah is in a troubled marriage and is accused of cheating and using black magic.
“This drama is all about forgiving, finding peace and justice. I can relate to the courage Farah possesses. I admire that. I think all women should have the courage to deal with tough situations,” she shared.
Siti is not about to rest on her laurels. Before the next Hari Raya, she hopes “to climb the Himalayan mountains. And of course, perform better and win more awards.”
Heartbreak on a happy day
Zizan Razak once got dumped by his girlfriend on the first day of Hari Raya.
“Our relationship grew apart since we hadn’t been seeing much of each other. So, on the first day of Hari Raya, I went to her house hoping to reconcile but instead she told me, ‘I have another boyfriend’.
“Yes, even a handsome face like mine got dumped,” the 30-year-old comedian said jokingly but admitted that he had shed silent tears following the incident which took place when he was 19.
Oh well, it’s her loss because these days, Zizan is one of the country’s top funnymen who came into the spotlight after placing second on the first season of Raja Lawak.
But it’s not all sad and dreary. The Dungun, Terengganu native has many fond memories of the festive season. “We would all make it a point to cook together, be it satay, laksa or lemang. And as a kid, I remember playing with firecrackers at night.”
The comedian has also welcomed a new woman in his life, actress Emma Maembong. Asked if he will be celebrating his last Hari Raya as a bachelor, he responded: “I’m not sure, it depends. Let’s hope for the best.”
Aizat Amdan is most thankful for stronger family relationships this Hari Raya.
“We don’t get to have serious, private talks often but that happened a lot this past year. I’ve gotten the opportunity to know each of my family members in a deeper sense. I love and understand them more,” said the 25-year-old former Akademi Fantasia contestant.
Aizat, whose favourite Raya dish is rendang itik, also thanked his loved ones for keeping him grounded. “As an artiste or a celebrity, we tend to get big-headed sometimes, but my parents won’t allow it.”
The Pergi hitmaker once celebrated the festive season in London on his own and shared it was an unforgettable moment as he got to experience Hari Raya for the first time as a traveller.
This year, Aizat plans to fly to Sydney, Australia on the second day of Syawal, in a bid “to try something different”. “It doesn’t matter where you celebrate Hari Raya as long as you are spending time with your loved ones.” (Pics: The Star/LOW LAY PHON)
Buying a car for her parents was Linda Onn’s most rewarding Hari Raya experience.
“The car that they had was always being sent for repairs. So I thought buying them a new car would surprise them and make them happy,” said the Suria FM deejay who gave her parents a Mercedes-Benz.
The 36-year-old beauty believes it is important to honour her parents, as “they are my everything”.
“They were shocked. They cried and were very happy. They never expected to receive a car as a Raya gift. No words could describe it,” she recalled her parents’ reaction.
Linda, who is spending her first Hari Raya as a married woman this year, said she will be heading to her in-laws’ house in Johor for the festivities.
Single and loving it
Ask Halim Othman when he will be getting hitched and the Suria FM deejay will probably answer, “next year”.
The bachelor who turns 50 this year said he has been asked the question so many times, especially during the festive season, that he has resorted to the standard response.
“For some reason, society thinks that if you’re not married, there’s something wrong with you. But you can be perfectly happy and be able to contribute to society whether or not you’re married,” said Halim who hails from Kerteh, Terengganu.
“Right now, I feel blessed being single. I wish I could be single for another 100 years.”
He will be celebrating Hari Raya in his hometown this year. “We have a white house by the river at Kerteh. All eight of us siblings will make sure that we go back every year, whether it’s for just an hour or a night.”