Celebrating regardless of religious beliefs

No place like home: Narul (blue shirt) with his family at their village in Tamparuli about 40km from Kota Kinabalu.

KOTA KINABALU: It is not uncommon among Sabah’s people of different faiths to come together to celebrate festive occasions.

For the family of retired firefighter Narul Andua, the Christmas celebration sees all four of his children – two of whom have converted to Islam – return with their families from Peninsular Malaysia to their village in Tamparuli to reunite with their parents in the festivities.

“Our different religious beliefs do not affect our family ties. Even though they practise a different religion, my two children who are Muslim usually come home to help us prepare for Christmas.

“They clean up and decorate our house and also help to put up the Christmas tree.

“They also assist in the cooking as relatives join us for the celebration, ” said Narul.

This year, however, his youngest son, who works in the Klang Valley, is not able to come home due to work commitments.

Narul said apart from Christmas, the family also celebrates Hari Raya Aidilfitri together.

“Most of my children and their respective families return home to celebrate Aidilfitri with us, too.

“We have no problem with that and our different religious beliefs have never hindered us in our family get-togethers, ” said the 70-year-old who will be representing Malaysia in Canada next year for the veterans’ athletics meet in Toronto.

His 34-year-old second daughter Melissa, a Muslim, said celebrating Christmas as a family is one of the things they look forward to every year.

“I am thankful that I can celebrate Christmas with my family.

“We may differ in our religious beliefs but spending Christmas with my parents and siblings is something we really enjoy every year, ” she added.

Narul said he was glad that Sabah has declared Christmas eve an additional holiday, enabling family members to return to Kampung Telibong in Tamparuli, on the foothills of Mount Kinabalu.

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