Hari Raya Haji Celebrations in Malaysia
Malaysia’s beauty lies in its multicultural diversity and the many feasts and celebrations that take place, like the Hari Raya Haji.
What Is Hari Raya Haji in Malaysia About?
This national public holiday in Malaysia is named after the Eid al Adha Muslim Holiday. Eid al Adha translates to mean “the Feast of Sacrifice”. It is sometimes referred to by its alternative names Hari Raya Korban. Some people even pronounce “Eid al Adha” as a single word Aidiladha.
Hari Raya Haji is a day when Muslims recall the “almost sacrifice” talked about in Islamic Scriptures. The “almost sacrifice” is when Ibrahim nearly sacrificed his son Ishmael on Mount Moriah near Mecca. It is believed that Ibrahim was obeying God’s command. When God called on Ibrahim to sacrifice his son as a test of his faith, Ibrahim passed the test by showing that he was willing to obey even the most extreme command asked of him. However, as Ibrahim was about to complete the sacrifice, God called out to him and commanded Ibrahim to stop. God then asked Ibrahim to replace Ishmael with a sheep instead. In another version, it is said that God changed his mind at the last minute and asked Ibrahim to replace his son with a sheep.
How Is Hari Raya Haji Celebrated?
The “almost sacrifice” of Ishmael is celebrated by Muslims around the world in the final month of the Islamic calendar. Starting from the 10th day of the Dhul-hijja month, the celebration is observed for four days. In Malaysia, the day is recognised as a national holiday.
Unlike other public holidays, the exact date will be declared officially in Malaysia after the moon-sighting committee determines the first day of Dhul-hijja. That’s because it is a lunar-based calendar. The announcement will be made nationwide on television and radio.
Generally, the day of celebration begins with the local Muslim rising early in the morning going to pray at the nearby mosque. With new clothes and happy hearts, they spend the day visiting family and friends and sharing large festive meals together.
Goats and sheep may be sacrificed on this day. Some of the meat or a financial sum equivalent to that amount will be donated to the poor so they may celebrate too. The mosques will be brightly lit with decorative lights for the festivities. Gifts may be exchanged and the sound of firecrackers can be heard at night. Many of the local Muslims might invite their non-Muslim friends to join them for a meal at home to share the celebration.
Many Muslims may choose to fulfil one of the Five Pillars of Islam too if they wanted. Pilgrimages to Mecca where the Hajj is performed are common among those who can afford the trip.
What to Do in Malaysia During Hari Raya Haji
If you happen to be in Malaysia during this holiday, there are a couple of things you could do. First, it should be noted that schools and most offices will be closed, as is the norm with most public holidays. However, most major shopping malls will still be open so there’s no shortage of things to do.
You will get the opportunity to see what a typical feast would look like if you’re invited by a Muslim to join them. Some may even take you to the slaughterhouse with them. This gives an opportunity for those who are curious to see how halal meat is prepared. Otherwise, going past the local mosques to see their spectacular architecture and the crowds on this day can be an experience too.