A uniquely Malaysian celebration

Home away from home: UTM international students posing for the camera as they celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri here.

JOHOR BARU: Foreign Muslim students here have been able to enjoy a meaningful Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration despite being away from home.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) student Ghaleb Haitham Ghaleb Hussein, 20, said the culture of visiting others, including non-family members, for Hari Raya is something that he feels is unique to Malaysia.

“In Jordan, we do have a similar concept of open houses, but we normally only visit family members and maybe some neighbours.

“However, in Malaysia, I noticed that people are inviting others to their open houses as well, including strangers.

“That is something that we rarely see in my home country,” he said.

Ghaled Haitham, who is half-Jordanian and half-Palestinian and whose family currently resides in Saudi Arabia, said he also found it interesting to see people giving “duit raya” through QR codes.

“I have experienced celebrating Aidilfitri in Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

“In both countries, the culture of giving money to children during Aidilfitri is also practised.

“However, I have never heard of people giving it through a QR code. I find it very interesting,” he said, adding that Ramadan bazaars are also things that he has not seen in either Jordan or Saudi Arabia.

Ghaleb Haitham, who has been living in Malaysia for two years, said that while he misses his family, he is also grateful for the opportunity to explore new experiences here.

“My family will usually go to Jordan during Hari Raya to be with our extended family for the special occasion.

“I do miss being able to join them, but I am also happy for the chance to see new things and culture in a new country,” he said, adding that he no longer has family in Palestine.

Fellow UTM student Mahmoud Medhat, 23, said he noticed that the streets here are normally empty during Hari Raya, which is the complete opposite compared with his home country of Egypt.

“In Egypt, you can see large crowds as you walk out of your house.

“We will visit other family members and go out together with them.

“We will normally bring some food from home and have a picnic at the park.

“However, in Malaysia, I noticed that people prefer staying at home.

“Even when they visit family members or friends, they will just enjoy the meals prepared by the host at their homes,” he said.

Mahmoud, who is celebrating Hari Raya in Malaysia for the fourth time, said he looks forward to exploring new things here.

“I have so far enjoyed my time celebrating Aidilfitri in Malaysia and I hope to see more of the country,” he added.

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