No doubt that all over the globe, the month of Ramadan is the heart of the year. It is the month of spiritual revival, Ibadah, prayer, forgiveness, supplications. It is the month of self-improvement, of getting closer to God, of becoming a better person for yourself and others around you. Apart from that, in Ramadan we get closer to our relatives, friends; mainly through iftars, and meeting during the Teraweeh prayer in the mosque. So far, I have experience fasting in two countries, respectively; Albania and Malaysia. Even though some elements might be the same, still there are a lot of other practices and traditional activities dissimilar. If in Albania the Ramadan atmosphere can be felt and witness among Muslim community only, in Malaysia you can see it everywhere; in streets with Bazaar Ramadan during afternoon, masjids (mosques) full of worshipers, working places closing earlier than 6pm, etc. The way how Malaysia celebrate the Ramadan, makes us all to experience e very special pleasant and unique practice.
First of all, for some cities the first day of Ramadan is a public holiday. Besides, all companies’ directors are very sensitive about fasting, therefore the offices will close minimum 1 hour earlier than usual working hours. This is due to Iftar preparation.
A very special distinguishing aspect of Ramadan is the Ramadan bazaars. Ramadan Bazaars can be found at every corner all over the city, offering a huge array of mouth-watering delicacies to break the fasting during the Iftar with a very economic prize which can be affordable for the rich and poor too. No one should miss the Bazaar, because there is a variety in food and menu, especially on “kueh” (traditional desserts) that are cooked only during this month.
Ramadan is the Month of sharing the food with the needy. A very unique tradition regarding this point is the distribution of Bubur Lambuk. Bubur Lambuk is a creamy rice porridge which is cooked in the mosques by many volunteers and it starts distributed after Asr prayer. You can see very long row of people queuing to get this kind of soup for free. Some volunteer will stand to train/bus stations just to give one cup of soup to the passengers.
Apart from that, the mosque offers Iftar, open to everybody. It’s amazing when you find there rich people too. When I asked one of my directors: “Why do you break the fast here?” She replied: I want to make the Doa with imam, pray congregational, and wait for the Teraweeh prayer. I feel much better in mosque sitting to eat at floor among other Muslims.” A sense of friendship is obvious as everyone sits close together and shares the meal.
A festive atmosphere can be felt throughout the month. The roads, major shopping malls and houses would be extravagantly decorated with twinkling fairy lights or traditional paraffin-fuelled lamps made from bamboo sticks and Local Eid songs are played.
Even though fasting in a hot and dry climate can be quite challenging for some, Ramadan in Malaysia is an irreplaceable experience which I am gonna miss if I decide to leave this country one day.