Monday, October 6, 2008

Hari Raya: the day of forgiving

Forget Christmas, and the morning of waking up excited for material gain, still drunk on eggnog from the night before. Okay, I take that back. The Townsends (sans extra h) have taken us in for years now and shown us the true spirit of Christianity: sharing their love and family with us less fortunate to have our own home base here in Seattle. I love them for that. And the cinnamon buns.

But what about my religion? Islam, the beautiful faith i grew up with that got a bad rep? Ramadan, the month of fasting came to me on a Magellan type day in London: I went exploring. Did i wake for Sahur and eat? No, of course not. My poor host, Caroline thought I would pass out. I spent the day dozing under a tree in Hyde park, before walking around for six hours. Where did I decide to go? Of course Harrod's, to see if the urban legend of a Krispy Kreme in their basement was true (it was). Also to Fortnum and Mason to pick up special jam for a brilliant, yet eccentric UW professor. Label reads: lovely with hot buttered toast. Dude anything tastes good with hot buttered toast. You have to put it on the direction label?

But I made it through, and broke fast and prayed at a grand masjid near an old friend Alex's house in Saint John's Wood. Back stateside, I celebrated actual Eid on Wednesday with all the lovely ladies of the University of Washington Muslim Student Association. My uncle was out of town and therefore in true family spirit, my aunt postponed Eid for his return.

So saturday night, I gathered the troupes to march through the gates of food heaven: a house in West Seattle where the wafts of food coming from the kitchen called to us like the melody of the piped piper. RENDANG!!!! WE ARE COMING!!!!

There are three essential F's to a Hari Raya gathering: family, food, and forgiveness.

Family was in abundance, even the adopted bestfriend type. If you lack in numbers, then invest in bestfriends like Steve, a.k.a Panda, who in his households accounts himself for THREE PEOPLE when figuring finances for food for the house. Always come to a muslim house with someone who can eat, to please the host.

Food, oh glorious food. My aunt wasn't ready when we arrived, and jetted off to the bathroom to shower. I took charge of the Lumpia, lovely spring rolls with meat, potatoes and yumminess. Eh hem, my folding technique is expert, I promise you, but I decided to make them all different shapes and sizes, and even fry them so they were in a multitude of color...white, slightly beige, tanned... and BROWN. This was my interpretation of our diverse demographic. I have a lovely bunch of
lum-pee-yahhhhhh...did la dee dee.. there they are all standing in a row....bump bump bump! fat ones, skinny ones, some as big as your head!

Food down, a cup of coffee to prevent comatose later...we come to the most important part of the night, the last F...forgiveness.

This more of an Indonesian/ Malaysian tradition than a global islamic one...though islam spread the world of tolerance and forgiveness. In our family, we get around in a circle and each member of the family, from youngest to oldest, asks for forgiveness from each other. Here is a photo of my little sister and I embracing and asking for forgiveness for all our wrong doings in the past year. At times like this when you sister cries with you, it is not the fights and the diagreements that you remember. You remember the times when she drove you around like ms.daisy, or when she bought you a new camera because your old one died, or single-handedly sorted out your graduation party because you were too stressed to even think about it. You remember the love and caring behind the tough words on the importance of choosing good friends, and the get better cards and balloons on the countless times you're sick in one year. Asking for forgiveness is also expressing your gratitude, knowing that everything your little sister does for you and herself comes from the heart. Nothing else. Then there is my twin sister who this past year flew half way across the world for me in my dire time of need, who cleaned up the mess I made after throwing my potted plant across the room in frustration at life. I am technically the eldest of three, but always feel like the youngest because it is my two big sisters who always are there to literally pick up the pieces...big as life. Riani, Estelle, you are my life. My everything. I love you both.

Selamat hari raya everyone.