Reported by Wen Qi and Fajar
Edited by Supriya Sivabalan
Photo credits: Sahabat Society and Sunway Echo Media
To celebrate the festive season of Raya, Sunway University Islamic Society, Rukun Negara and Sahabat Society organized a festival on the 3rd of July where everyone had a great time and enjoyed the beauty of Malaysian culture at its prime. The event started at 9am and ended at 4pm at the uni foyer which was decorated in rich green to bring about the raya atmosphere. By 9am, droves of students dressed in Baju Melayu and Baju Kurung had arrived to celebrate raya without borders.
Your first gaze throughout the event would be at the central exhibition booth. What better way to appreciate them good ole’ times than to look at the gems of time directly? The booth highlighted unique Malay culture items from clothes to food. Along with each exhibit, there were information boards which explained each of them clearly and thoroughly. The boards exhibited how traditional clothes such as Baju Kebaya really are timeless and will never go out of style through the years. The rarely exhibited meriam buluh (bamboo cannon) is a homemade firecracker which lights up the skies of Raya every year. The basikal lama (old bicycle) also stuck out from the rest of the exhibits as it looked like it has been through many rough times. It was a reminder of a simpler age, before inventions like scooters were created.
The exhibition booth
The biggest crowd pleaser was the food vendors, especially the satay vendor who set prices as low as RM1. Food brings people together. Everyone, regardless of race, was in line waiting for the scrumptious food ahead. This provided everyone with the chance to bond over food. Other Malay delicacies were sold as well such as asam laksa, cendol and jelly kelapa which received just as much attention from the passing hungry crowd.
Other than that, beside the library there was a time travel photo booth which showcased both the past and present kampung lifestyles side by side. Guests could take pictures here and get them printed as sweet memories.
Participants also had a chance to play cross cultural games such as the famous congkak, sepak bulu ayam and batu seremban. Congkak is a game where the goal is to gain as many “shells” (transparent marbles) in your storehouse. Meanwhile, sepak bulu ayam is a literal translation of “kicking chicken feather” where the game piece is shaped like a chicken’s feather. The game can be played alone or with a couple of friends. Players are supposed to keep the game piece in the air with their kicks for as long as possible. If it’s played in a group, the piece is passed around endlessly. Furthermore is batu seremban, a game where the player’s focus is tested in order to pick up as many stones from the ground while still being swift enough to catch the falling stone thrown beforehand.
Time flies when you’re having fun. By 12 pm, the esteemed guests arrived and were escorted by none other than Samson and Sophia, the sun bears, to kickstart the opening ceremony. The guests were seated in the front of the row where they could enjoy a silat performance, a historical Malay and Indonesian martial art. The swift and agile moves of the performer along with the music serenaded by gamelan (traditional ensemble of percussion instruments) won them a way.
The measured movements of a master
After that, two lovely ladies blessed the crowd with their melodious voices singing the well-known “Selamat Hari Raya” by Saloma. With their harmonies, the crowd sang along whilst cheering for them. With that, Professor Graeme Wilkinson gave a speech on multiculturalism and the beauty of all cultures which brings to the importance of preserving them.
Later on, the performances continued with four ladies dressed in colourful baju kurung dancing a traditional dance known as joget as well as a group of dancers dancing along to the beat of their kompang (hand-held drum). With the performances complete, the VIPs were invited on stage to sign a card initiating the beginning of the event. By 11.30pm, the VIPs were ushered to the art gallery to have their lunch.
With the formalities aside, the foyer was buzzing with performances such as songs and dances. Not only that, but open karaoke was held where anyone could sing to their heart’s content. Groups of friends laughingly went on stage to sing along to well known raya songs as others took advantage of the food and drink stalls not usually seen on campus. The three different available photoshoot set pieces were taken full advantage of as even regularly dressed students crowded in to take advantage of the aesthetic.
At around 2pm, Sophia and Samson returned with representatives from Student Life to hand out duit raya to students brave (or desperate) enough to shake hands with them. The packets turned out to actually contain coupons for Sunway Lagoon. Muslims from many different countries could be spotted enjoying the festivities as they may not have had the chance to celebrate with their families this year.
The event was a complete success. The scale of it drew in plenty of students, providing them with tons of fun activities and performances. It truly was a ‘riang’ raya!