Hari Raya Puasa is a religious festival celebrated by the Malays and Muslims in Singapore and Malaysia. It marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, and people will usually spend the morning of the first day visiting the mosque, and then proceed on to visit relatives after.
Selamat Hari Raya (Happy Hari Raya) to all my Malay and Muslim friends! Hari Raya was celebrated in Singapore last week, and this year’s celebration marks my 7th Hari Raya with Imran. Today’s blog post features my Kebaya I wore to this year’s house-visits, shot by Lenne! Plus, since we are in the midst of all the Hari Raya celebrations and festivities, today’s blog post is dedicated to celebrating my relationship with Imran, and how our multicultural relationship has made me a better person.
Just to clarify things: I’m Chinese, Imran’s Malay. So Hari Raya is mainly his family’s thing, since by race, I celebrate Chinese New Year. Every Hari Raya, I take part in Hari Raya celebrations where we visit Imran’s relatives together, and stuff ourselves silly with tidbits and food served at his relatives.
The both of us come from completely different backgrounds but at the end of the day these differences hardly matter, we consider ourselves each other’s best friends and life partner-in-crimes.
So what’s it like dating someone who is of a different race and religion than you?
Well, firstly you become mortified at friends who believe that Malays HAVE to – as if by some sort of law – get married at void decks. It is not mandatory guys! Weddings are held at void decks for several reasons, please read this really useful article that explains why.
Then you start to wake up in the middle of the night craving amazing homecooked Malay food – omg Nasi Ayam Penyet and Keropok Lekor. You get so excited whenever you see a Pasar Malam (night market) or better yet, when a new restaurant has a Halal food sign (*imaginary first pump*) because now there’s a new place to try out during couple date night!
Then you start listening to Malay songs and memorizing their lyrics by heart (my favourite Malay song is Belaian Jiwa, which I car sing constantly with Imran), and after engaging in a duet with your Malay significant other, you realize that maybe, just maybe, the saying that “Malays are the better singers” is correct because EVERYBODY in your boyfriend’s family CAN SING except you.
Funny realisations aside, my relationship with Imran has made me a better person in that I have gained new perspectives and new understandings of a different culture. Most importantly, I learn to love unconditionally and unrequitedly despite our racial and religious differences. I look forward to many more Hari Rayas together with Imran, my goal in 3 years? Be an expert at cooking all the flavorful Malay dishes, because what would be a Hari Raya family gathering without some tender-loving home-cooked meal?!
If you have someone who brings out the best in you that you would like to honour, share your story at www.the-best-of-you.com.
Photos by Lenne Chai, editing by me.