Saturday, September 4, 2010

Raya Thoughts

How time flies. In less than a week, Muslims the world over will be celebrating Eid Mubarak, or in local parlance, Hari Raya Aidil Fitri.

In most households, preparations are already underway to welcome this much-awaited religious festival that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

For starters there's the house, to be given a proper once-over. The curtains definitely need changing; after all, it's only done once a year. Perhaps the fence too needs a new coat of paint.

In our house, however, the curtains remain unchanged. This is because we don't have drapes. Instead, it's vertical blinds for every window; expensive to fix no doubt, but fuss-free and economical in the long run.

In days of old, the baking of biskut raya would have begun midway through Ramadan. But today, with the prolification of mass-produced raya cookies, not many households bake their own anymore.

In the early days of my marriage, I would attempt to bake at least one type of such cookies, usually my personal favourite of 'melting moments' (also known as biskut arab). These days it's beli (buy) from the word go.

Throughout my childhood, my Ramadan was always associated with baking and sewing. This is because my grandmother, at once a noted cook/baker/seamstress, would take in orders for both raya cookies and clothes.

And on these once-slender shoulders would fall the task of helping out with the baking and packing, as well as with sewing the hemline and the intricate, traditional tulang belut (herringbone) stitch on the neckline of baju kurung.

These things I would do evenings, usually once my school work was attended to. Opah would get started with the biskut raya first; sewing would come second whilst cake-baking would be last on the list.

There really was never a dull moment in the Ramadans of my childhood, packed as they were. Complain I never did, perhaps because I loved Opah so much that helping her became a pleasure and not a chore.

Memories of the countless times we spent in the kitchen together return each time Syawal comes around; me prattling whilst greasing the baking trays, she responding with hands deftly kneading cookie dough.

Also, it was my job to ensure an adequate supply of aluminium tins for cookies (this was during the pre-plastic container days), our favourites being the Milo or Ovaltine round tins and the 'Cream Crackers' rectangular tin.

Baju-wise, mine was always the last to be sewn (usually a couple of nights before Raya was announced), after Grandpa's shirt. And I got to do the hem myself, naturally.

Grandpa was not into baju melayu and would not be pressed into wearing one. A true-blue semutar-wearing Kelantanese, Tok Ayah was a short-sleeved kemeja (shirt) man through and through.

Opah is long gone. She died age 59, in 1979, of uterine cancer. Had she been alive today, she would be close to 90; not an impossibility since longevity is a prominent trait of the Megat women.

Grandpa too has gone to meet his Maker, some 15 years after the demise of his beloved wife. He never remarried; instead he returned to Kota Baru to live out his last days and died surrounded by his loved ones.

With Syawal on the horizon, my mind somehow wanders to these two elderly people who had showered me with so much love, and who had meant so much in the formative years of my life...


pakmat said...

..selamat hari raya, lady..we always remember of raya's past..those time when we had slender shoulders and dainty fingers..for raya is always a blend of the past and the future..elders figured one day we will be prominent in our children's memory..have a joyous one, lady..and maaf, no my age, I am bit short on those batin things..cheers..

ninotaziz said...

Dear Kak Kama,
I too remember my grandparents with much love. And my grandmother is still telling us stories and all though she is not well. Balik Chenor was synonymous with Hari Raya then.

hhhmmm, and I remember my once slender shoulders with much love too...sigh.

luahfikiran said...

Wishing u n family, Selamat Hari Raya. If u travell, hati2.

Wan Sharif said...

..selamat hari raya to you puteri and your love one..
Tulang belut.. in trengganu we say tikang leher dok ggitu?
I was always tasked to send the bajus for tikang leher parts.. my mother did not have the patience for such an intricate work..
di rumah saya di KL ..masih lagi ada upacara buat kuih raya.. maybe when I visit my mum today.. there will be a similar upacara in my elder sister's house..

NanaDJ said...

Selamat Hari Raya to you, Pak Abu and the children.
Raya always evoked memories of the past and the loved ones who are no longer with us. I am fortunate that I still have my mother around and 9 of my 11 siblings ( a younger brother is a PR in US and I lost another brother a few years ago). We will have a huge gathering (40 nieces/nephews and 20 grandnieces/nephews) at my mom's house on 3rd Raya so that those still in JB could come and be with us.

ninotaziz said...

Dear Kak Kama,

Selamat Hari Raya Maaf Zahir Batin from us, we will be in Rantau Panjang.

Salam dari
Rudi Ninot
Iman Inas Irani Ilena Ikesha

kay_leeda said...

Kak Puteri,

Baju kurung sembat & tulang belut!! Aww...they are my favourite even till now. But it's so difficult to find anyone yg sanggup menjahit baju kurung this way these days. The other thing I learnt from my late gramdmother was to pakai kain nya susun tepi and use the tali pinggang besi. Fuhhh...rasa ancient la pulak!!

Selamat Hari Raya to you and your family Kak :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Kama
Could u do an entry on yr granma, her person & relationship with u. Thank you.

Al-Manar said...

The least I must do is to wish you and family a Happy Hari Raya
Pakcik Hassan and Salmah

Cat-in-Sydney said...

Aunty Puteri,
Errr...I'm hankering for sepasang kurung biru teluk belanga with tulang belut....

EID MUBARAK to you and yours.

Angelina, Brad, Mama & Dad

D said...

What fond memories you've related! Somehow, I'm now doing the things you used to do with your grandma, despite it being the 21st century...

I only learned to sew at the age of 30. Never took SRT/ERT in school but I had always wanted to sew.

So today, being away from home, my daughter's upset she's got no baju kurung to wear. What else would a mother do, other than sew one herself? (don't think I have time for tulang belut though!!)

And, biskut raya can't be found on the shelves of Tesco or Asda although I've searched hi and lo for them! So, I've made biskut makmur, London almonds and butter cookies. Sampret je belum..

We hope to finish off our Quran reading today and then, concentrate on embracing what's left of the month. Have a blessed Ramadhan still Kak... Eid will just step in gracefully!

Anonymous said...

Selamat Hari Raya Cagey & Ash & family...maaf zahir dan batin....goin back to Dungun?...


Anonymous said...

...salam Kak...
MAAF ZAHIR DAN BATIN... wondering why pakmat said "no" to "batin"... any clarification..?

Shazali said...

Just a small correction, Opah died in 1980 (September 25)

Kama At-Tarawis said...

Pakmat - harirayas have a way of evoking memories, don't they.. have a good one too, pak mat..

Ninot - chenor eh.. perakian through and through, that. selamat hariraya and do take care..

LF - tq lf. fortunately we hardly travel come raya.. KL has been 'kamnpung' for many years.. raya wishes to you too..

Wan - getting together to make kuih raya is such a commendable tradition. aha wan, i had forgotten the term 'tikang leher' until you mentioned it..hehehe

Nana - lucky you, nana, and do berhati2 dijalanraya on your way south..

Kay - once upon a time the only type of kurung i wore was kurung johor, big and comfy, made the traditional way - sembat tangan, with tulang belut, naturally. textiles were sent all the way from kl to muar to this lady.. 10 pairs at one go. then she passed away. no more kurung johor 'maestro'.. for me.. and i'm still adept at pakai kain susun with tali pinggang besi!

Anon - actually i have written a fair bit about her in many of my past postings... i would need a fresh angle to write again.. heheh.. let me mull over it, though..

Al-Manar - selamat hariraya to you and makcik, pak.. how i wish i am in terengganu..

Cat - XXX all the way from KL to Sydney to Cat and co..

D - what a wonderful thing to do, sewing your daughter's baju yourself.. she'll never live this one down for sure..and you beat me hands down with your cookie-making..

Snowy - tak balik dungung snowy, mak dah takder, her house kosong.. :(

Budi - pakmat is playing it safe for once budi.. hehehe.. he's steering clear of any bathin issues..

Shazali - thanks a mil my dear cousin, kak kama sendiri kurang pasti the actual year. now i remember dia sempat tengok ann..

Pi Bani said...

Selamat hari raya, K.Puteri! Bila nak buat open house? :-)