Friday, June 21, 2024
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Brunei Town

Twice the celebration

Lyna Mohamad

The Malaysian High Commission in Brunei Darussalam yesterday hosted two separate Hari Raya events as the celebration enters its final week.

On Saturday morning, Malaysian High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam Dato’ Raja Reza bin Raja Zaib Shah and his spouse Datin Roslina Ismail shared in the festivities with 35 Pusat Ehsan Al-Ameerah Al-Hajjah Maryam (Pusat Ehsan) members, while later in the day the pair entertained 300 Malaysians residing in the Sultanate.

The 300 guests were split into two groups, in compliance with the standard operating procedures (SOP) set in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“In conjunction with Hari Raya, the High Commission is pleased to share the joyous festive season with the differently-abled children from Pusat Ehsan,” Dato’ Raja Reza said.

He also noted that while the Sultanate may have relaxed some restrictions under the Early Endemic Phase, the Malaysian community “should not be complacent”.

Photos show Malaysian High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam Dato’ Raja Reza bin Raja Zaib Shah and his spouse Datin Roslina Ismail during the Hari Raya event. PHOTOS: MUIZ MATDANI

Dato’ Raja Reza bin Raja Zaib Shah and spouse handing out green packets
ABOVE & BELOW: Celebrants in high spirits at the festive get-together; and Dato’ Raja Reza mingles with a countryman

Malaysian Nur Aida binti Haji Kamarul Zaman from Ipoh, Malaysia told the Bulletin it is her second time celebrating Aidilfitri in Brunei.

“When the pandemic first hit, I assumed the border closures would be merely for a few months. It has been over two years and it hurts to not be able to spend this special occasion with my family,” she said.

Nur Aida does, however, take comfort in the fact that she was able to celebrate the festivities with her parents during her first Raya here.

In the past, Nur Aida’s close-knitted family would pick a family member’s home to gather at for Hari Raya. Now, however, her inability to return home means physical get-togethers have been replaced by video calls.

Celebrating the occasion with her in-laws has offered some relief as “the festive atmosphere and food selection in Brunei are quite similar to the ones back home”, she said.

“I thank the Malaysian High Commission for inviting me and fellow Malaysians to celebrate this joyous event together. It has allowed me to meet new people from my home country,” Nur Aida added.

Meanwhile, Kee Taufek Kee Harrith from Sandakan, Sabah said, “This is my fourth Hari Raya celebration away from home and my family.”

Chalking it up to work commitment and the eventual border closures, he said, “I was looking forward to reuniting with my family in the third year, but then COVID-19 happened and I had to shelve my Hari Raya plans. I miss celebrating with my siblings. Although the celebration there is not as merry as it is here, there is something very special about being with family on such occasions.”

Kee is grateful to have a handful of relatives and good friends here who have brighten his festive spirit.

Additionally, the Raya invite from the Malaysian High Commission allowed Kee to mark the festivities with fellow Malaysians.