Home is where the heart is for Raya celebrations away


Afifah Mohd Sukor plans to video call her family and in-laws.

IPOH: Malaysians staying overseas will celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri with a tinge of sadness as they cannot return home to be with their families this year.

Although they will celebrate Hari Raya with friends in foreign countries, nothing beats spending time with family during the festive season.

Puteri Norliana Megat, 34, who is studying in Hungary, said this year would be the second time she would not be spending Hari Raya with her family in Taiping.

“I celebrated Hari Raya with my colleagues in Saudi Arabia when I worked there last year before returning home in July.

“In August, I flew to Hungary to pursue my studies and that was the last time I saw my family, ” said Puteri Norliana, who is sitting for her Masters degree as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, specialising in intensive care.

She also spent Hari Raya in Saudi Arabia but it was tough for her as she was working at two hospitals in Mecca.

“However, I got together with several Malaysian friends I had made over a potluck.

“It was sad because we were in a lockdown and we could not leave the hospital premises.

“We wanted to perform our prayers at Masjidil Haram in Mecca that was near the hospital but could not do so due to the lockdown, ” she said, adding that this was her fourth year living abroad.

Puteri Norliana also said she could only spend a few weeks in Malaysia when she came back in July last year.

“When I came home in July, I had only a few weeks to prepare my documents before flying to Hungary.

“While I was busy preparing documents before flying to Hungary my father was admitted to hospital. I only got to meet him two hours before flying off as he was rushed to the National Heart Institute.

“Due to rising Covid-19 cases in Malaysia at the time, only my sister got to send me to the airport while the rest of our family stayed home with my father, ” she added.

Puteri Norliana said prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, her family members would cook together before holding their Hari Raya open house.

“The best part was meeting our relatives, ” she added.

She said she had planned to celebrate Hari Raya with her family this year.

However, she has to sit for her final exams scheduled before and during Hari Raya week itself.

“Even though I am used to it, it’s sad to know my parents are celebrating Hari Raya on their own in Taiping, ” she said, adding that two of her siblings were currently staying in Putrajaya and could not go home due to the travel restriction.

Muhamad Nazirul Md Salim, who is also studying in Hungary, said although he had friends celebrating with him there, it would still feel different.

“While we do cook together, we can’t match the Hari Raya feast we have at home, ” said the 25-year-old.

“Celebrating Hari Raya in Malaysia is the best since I have my family and relatives. We get to catch up with each other while enjoying the food.”

He said this would be the second year he would not be celebrating Hari Raya with his family.

Housewife Afifah Mohd Sukor, 29, who is in Wales, said she planned to video call her family and in-laws in Perak and Negri Sembilan.

“Both my parents and parents-in-law have not met my daughter, who was born last year.

“I have not been home for two years. It’s quite hard, ” she said, adding that she had to carry out her confinement on her own while raising her daughter with her husband, who works as a doctor.

Afifah said although she had friends in Wales, they needed to limit the number of people visiting from other households due to Covid-19 restrictions.

“For this year, those who want to perform prayers will be allowed to enter the mosque here on a first come first serve basis.

“Celebrations are only allowed in small groups. We usually visit other Muslim families we know here, but I am not sure if we can do it this year, ” she added.

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