BUTTERWORTH: Four friends took advantage of the rare confluence of religious festivities this month not only to do good deeds but also to foster a better understanding of Bangsa Malaysia.
Accounts clerk Norina Aziz, 39, had a vegetarian buka puasa with her friends P. Manju, 32, S. Vello, 52, and Jenny Lim, 37, at a banana leaf restaurant in Prai.
Manju and Vello, both Hindus, were on a vegetarian diet until yesterday as they observed the Navarathri (nine nights). Lim was also on the same diet for nine days due to Nine Emperor Gods Festival which ended yesterday.
The three decided to have a buka puasa dinner on Thursday with Norina, who was fasting.
They were spotted enjoying their dinner at the restaurant that served vegetarian food like vegetarian mutton curry, fried rice, capati and tosai.
Norina said she was working late when Manju called her to buka puasa with Lim and Vello at the restaurant which was near their offices.
“Manju suggested that we buka puasa together. I had been having Malay dishes since the fasting month started last Friday and the banana leaf dinner is something of a change,” she said.
Manju said Hindus would fast for nine days during the Navarathri that falls in the Tamil calendar month of Ipaisi.
During this festival, she said, Hindus would pray at the temples and create a golu padi (nine steps) at home to place dolls dressed to represent the incarnations of Goddess Shakti-Durga (representing valour), Lakshmi (wealth) and Saraswathi (knowledge).
“I always eat with my Malay and Chinese friends and I thought why not buka puasa together since we observe our religious obligations this week.”
Lim, a former bank staff turned businesswoman, said she had always buka puasa with her Muslim friends while working in the bank.
“It is good to eat together so that we will understand others better. Norina now understands why I go on vegetarian diet and likewise, I know why my Muslim friends abstain from food from dawn till sunset.”
The Nine Emperor God Festival is celebrated by devotees who go on a vegetarian diet and fast as a cleansing process in preparation for prayer sessions.
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