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Celebrating Eid Away from Home: International Students' Experience

The month of Syawal has just left us, but the spirit of Hari Raya is still felt. With still plenty of leftover raya cookies to munch on, and Raya songs still playing in our hearts and minds, Malaysians certainly have a lot to be thankful for in celebrating the recent Hari Raya Aidil Fitri. 

As we say goodbye to the month of Syawal and to Eid celebrations, we wonder how our international friends at UPM celebrate Raya away from home and family, and how they found Raya in Malaysia.  We therefore met a couple of UPM international students and asked them to share with us their experience.

Ishak, a Nigerian student with the Faculty of Science, who has celebrated Eid for two years in Malaysia,  explained that the spirit of Eid in Malaysia is not that different to that in Nigeria. 

“There are no major differences in terms of activities on the first day of Eid in Malaysia if compared to Nigeria.  Similar to other Muslim majority countries, we celebrate Eid by wearing new clothes, performing the Eid prayer, and visiting family and friends”, he said.

The only difference that he observed was that Malaysians celebrate Eid for a whole month, whereas in Nigeria they only celebrate it for four days. Another major difference, according to Ishak, is that most Nigerians would celebrate Eid in the city, whereas most Malaysians would leave the city to celebrate it in their villages and hometowns.  

Ishak admitted that celebrating away from home can make you feel lonely and isolated.  “I hope that UPM would consider holding a grand open house for UPM’s international community in future.  In turn, the international community can share special dishes from their countries with the local community”, he added. 

A PhD student from Bangladesh, Mashoumi, appreciated the experience to study and celebrate Eidul Fitri in Malaysia. According to Mashoumi, usually, the Bangladeshi community in Malaysia would meet on the morning of Eid at an agreed venue to celebrate together. 

“This year, we chose one of the hotels in Bukit Bintang to hold the celebration,” she explained.  “Our activities  on the day begin with performing the Eid prayer at Masjid Negara.  We then move to the gathering place to hold a “salam-salam” and feasting session together.  The celebration ends with a cultural night”, she elaborated.   

Mashoumi also expressed that she would love to learn more about Malaysia and Malaysian culture, especially about religious celebrations such as Eidul Fitri.  Similarly to Ishak, she felt that the international community at UPM should be given the opportunity to celebrate and experience Hari Raya with the local community, so that their Malaysian experience would be even more memorable. 

So, the next time we celebrate Eid, spare a thought for our international students and their families who are celebrating away from home. 

We hope that it is not too late for UPM’s International Centre (i-Putra) to wish the UPM community, “Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf Zahir Batin”.  

Updated:: 26/08/2017 [iylia]

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