Seasonal scenes that warm the heart


Nostalgic stroll: Shoppers checking out the many attractions at Gurney Plaza’s ‘Mekar Raya Aidilfitri’ festive display in Penang that celebrates the joys of home and beauty of the hibiscus. — LIM BENG TATT/The Star

HOME is where the heart finds comfort and kinship, especially during festive seasons like Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

It is why shopping centres across the country often revert to rustic scenes for their centrepiece decorations this time of year.

But rather than plain recreations of traditional kampung houses, they cleverly re-imagine it with other elements to create fresh and exciting displays that warm hearts.

Urban folk especially would be reminded of the simple joys of returning to their hometowns, reuniting with loved ones and being reinvigorated by natural surroundings and a slower pace of life.

1st Avenue’s ‘Kenangan Aidilfitri’ decorations are an ode to the simplicity and beauty of life in rural Malaysia. — Photos: LIM BENG TATT, ZHAFARAN NASIB, JEREMY TAN/The Star and courtesy of malls and hotels1st Avenue’s ‘Kenangan Aidilfitri’ decorations are an ode to the simplicity and beauty of life in rural Malaysia. — Photos: LIM BENG TATT, ZHAFARAN NASIB, JEREMY TAN/The Star and courtesy of malls and hotels

In Penang, one will get a sense of that when exploring Gurney Plaza’s “Mekar Raya Aidilfitri” setup centred around an enchanting hibiscus garden.

The reddish pink hues of the national flower, better known as bunga raya locally or by its scientific name Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, enliven every corner of the leafy landscape.

This is further embellished by pelita raya, ketupat, palm trees and a meandering stream.

A kampung house-shaped pavilion, lighted crescent moon and mini bridge also offer good photo opportunities. Look up to find more giant hibiscus blooms floating in midair.

CapitaLand (Penang/Pahang) general manager Peter Chan said they wanted those visiting Gurney Plaza to feel right at home while festive shopping.

“The hibiscus is a symbol of national pride. We wanted to celebrate its beauty and at the same time, pay tribute to our country. But above all, we wanted a setting that felt inclusive.

“A place for all Malaysians to come together, spend time together and capture unique memories. To that end, we’ve also organised many communal activities throughout the month,” Chan added.

Among the shoppers exploring the scene was customer service assistant manager Zubaida Abdullah, 39, who had her family in tow.

“I like the concept, it’s a bit different and more lively. Though we’re from Penang, we also have family in Perak and Perlis and will be returning to visit them over Hari Raya.

Shoppers taking photos at an archway that opens up to a verdant garden with lots of flowers and batik, that is part of Queensbay Mall’s “Sinaran Syawal” celebrations.Shoppers taking photos at an archway that opens up to a verdant garden with lots of flowers and batik, that is part of Queensbay Mall’s “Sinaran Syawal” celebrations.

“The greenery and laid-back vibes here remind me of those places. The kids love the environment,” said Zubaida.

Another shopper, primary school teacher Ridwan Zakaria, 39, said his family was originally from a rural area in Penang and the display evoked fond memories of their backyard.

“My children had fun exploring the structures, checking out the flowers and even following the stream. We took lots of pictures.

“I love the kampung vibes with the wooden house, trees and lamps. It feels like home,” he added.

Queensbay Mall’s radiant “Sinaran Syawal” display is equally verdant and celebrates another beloved national symbol – batik.

Intricate motifs typical of the fabric adorn the main stage that is framed by the outline of a dome, as well as on pathways encircling the conceptual garden filled with palm trees and flowers.

Lamps of various shapes and sizes bathe the scene in a warm glow. Numerous stars and a giant crescent also make the scene ripe for photo-taking.

Mall manager Lee Sue Ling described festive seasons as the most important times in a year for the mall, and among the biggest blessings of living in a harmonious, multi-racial society.

“Our diverse team strives to capture the joys and essence of each celebration and interpret it in ways that would resonate with shoppers of all ages and backgrounds.

“This time, lights are a key element as it symbolises happiness, not to mention batik which has a timeless appeal,” she shared.

At 1st Avenue Penang, the decorations are more nostalgic.

Themed “Kenangan Aidilfitri”, it features a quaint kampung house, mini padi fields and bamboo structures.

Besides celebrating the simplicity and beauty of rural Malaysia, it also recalls cherished memories of village life which is slowly disappearing in the face of development and modernisation.

The theme complements an accompanying Agrofiesta Aidilfitri 2024 run in collaboration with the Federal Agriculture Marketing Authority (Fama) of Penang.

Visitors, some dressed in traditional attire, snapping photos with the vibrant souk that makes up Sunway Carnival Mall’s ‘Gaya Riang Raya’ decorations.Visitors, some dressed in traditional attire, snapping photos with the vibrant souk that makes up Sunway Carnival Mall’s ‘Gaya Riang Raya’ decorations.

Exotic wonders

Elsewhere at Sunway Carnival Mall, the festive setup has a more Middle Eastern feel and is themed “Gaya Riang Raya”.

It centres around a vibrant souk or marketplace, with a beige three-storey structure complemented by various stalls offering spices, fabrics, earthenware, ornate lamps and more.

Colourful flowers and gold lamps add richness to the space, which also has some special corners for social media snaps.

General manager Chai Wen Yew said all Sunway malls across the country had adopted the unified theme and notably, also made their decorations with the environment in mind.

“We’re committed to Sustainable Development Goals and use recycled and discarded materials such as gunny sacks for the spice displays.

“Discarded paper from printing firms were also made into decorative elements, while frames for lanterns were fashioned from reclaimed wood from previous years’ decorations.

“Every corner of the display was also crafted to encourage interaction and exploration among shoppers. After all, Hari Raya represents the principles of familial bonds and forgiveness.

“So let’s embrace unity and cherish the time we spend with loved ones. We hope this setting provides a welcoming space for Malaysians to come together,” he added.

Aman Central’s “Salam Aidilfitri” festive backdrop features a crescent moon arch, lightbox-styled lanterns, scattered palm trees and vendor huts.Aman Central’s “Salam Aidilfitri” festive backdrop features a crescent moon arch, lightbox-styled lanterns, scattered palm trees and vendor huts.

In the neighbouring state of Kedah, Aman Central’s “Salam Aidilfitri” decorations were inspired by the Eid Mubarak or blessed festival concept.

There is a touch of Marrakesh with its giant crescent moon arch, lightbox-styled lanterns with semi-transparent panels and scattered palm trees.

An oversized congkak board and vendor huts topped with batik fabrics has added Malaysian character to the highly Instagrammable setting.

The mall’s assistant general manager (Marketing Communication) Ken Chin said they chose calming shades of cyan, yellow jasmine and white to represent their hopes for continued peace for the community, as well as optimism for the local tourism and retail industries.

“Crafting such wonders in the mall is one of the most important aspects of every festive season.

“We want it to be the perfect destination for shoppers on their Raya break, where they’ll find something that ignites a sense of wonder and happiness,” he added.

Entrepreneur Azizan Abdul Hussein, 28, visited the mall to break fast with his family and took time out to explore the festive backdrop.

“With all the stalls around and a bustling atmosphere, it feels like one of those Arabian markets. We enjoy coming here every Raya as there is a different scene to take in.

“It’ll be nice to look back at all the photos someday and see all the places we got to travel to – without leaving home,” said Azizan.

Stunning colours

Back in Penang, Straits Quay Retail Marina’s “Enchanting Eid” outdoor decorations have a regal feel thanks to predominantly gold hues.

It features a vast and airy structure representing a grand palace, with decorative panels bearing a mix of batik and star-shaped motifs. Among long planter boxes, gold leaves emerge.

“We envisioned something resplendent that is in keeping with Malaysian culture and tradition.

“Gold catches the eye and would certainly make visitors’ selfies stand out,” said mall senior manager Wong Siew Hui.

Colours are also the key factor in Gurney Paragon Mall’s festive decorations, aptly themed “Vivid Riuh Raya”.

Intricate red, blue, yellow, white and green mosaics make a mini plaza an eye-catching oasis.

This is framed by several mini minarets, light boxes, decorative panels and a large crescent moon.

They all combine to create a joyful atmosphere, particularly as there is also a 7m-tall indoor children’s playground right beside the decorations.

Shopper Siti Nurbaiti Aziz, 37, and her sister Anita, 47, both Penangites, loved the display and took lots of photos together.

Shangri-La Golden Sands, Penang staff touching up the decorations on their kampung house replica.Shangri-La Golden Sands, Penang staff touching up the decorations on their kampung house replica.

“Though simple, the colours make it joyful. It’s great that malls make an effort to enliven the festive atmosphere,” said Siti, a personal assistant.

Spreading festive joy

Not to be outdone, many Penang hotels have also put up colourful decorations to bring cheer to guests both local and foreign.

At Shangri-La Golden Sands, a replica of a kampung house on stilts, complete with mini ketupat and even a Minangkabau roof, takes pride of place at the resort lobby.

Communications director Datuk Suleiman Tunku Abdul Rahman said it took their in-house carpentry team a week to complete the display.

“Every single plank of wood or piece of bamboo used in its construction was recycled from previous projects, to be mindful of the environment.

“The decoration is our way of spreading the joys of the season to guests, especially to our Muslim friends who have supported the resort over the years.

“Golden Sands has always been a favourite among local travellers and room occupancy for the Hari Raya week has already exceeded 80%,” he added.

At Iconic Hotel Penang, a photo backdrop features a pair of gold wau bulan alongside blooming sunflowers and lamps.

Sales and marketing director Khor Bee Ai said they loved dressing up their lobby every festive season as it made guests’ experiences more enjoyable.

“We decided to mix the traditional kites with modern floral arrangements as our hotel is a modern property.

“We expect a high occupancy next week as a lot of last-minute bookings are coming in,” said Khor.

The Granite Luxury Hotel also set up a display of minarets, a crescent moon and an eight-pointed star in shades of royal blue and gold outside its driveway.

Corporate communications manager Ng Su-Ann invited guests and passersby alike to snap photos with the setup and immerse in the joyous festivities.

“Here’s wishing our Muslim friends a blessed, joy-filled Hari Raya, filled with love, peace and prosperity,” she added.

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Spirit of Ramadan , Ramadan , Puasa , Fasting , Hari Raya ,

   

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