During the month of Syawal (otherwise known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri or Hari Raya Puasa), many Muslims open the doors of their homes to welcome all, bringing together people irrespective of creed, culture and position to participate in the rejoicing. An open house brings people together regardless of their religion, position or background. Local favourites like ketupat (rice wrapped in coconut leaves), peanut sauce and rendang (a dry spicy beef dish) are served.
Large scale open houses, like those organized by political figures are announced via the mass media. Due to the extraordinarily volume of attendees, large scale open houses are usually held at venues big enough to hold colossal events. A steady stream of visitors can be seen making their way to open houses during scheduled times, not only to eat and have fun, but to meet the country’s leaders.
Tourists are most welcomed to such events. Hari Raya Aidilfitri officially begins at the sighting of the moon on the last day of Ramadhan, and is the most joyous celebration of the Muslim community. The sighting of the first moon of the following month, Syawal, by religious elders signals the eve of Hari Raya. The festival begins the following day. Weeks before the big day, excitement mounts as the house is thoroughly cleaned and readied for the celebration with new furnishing and decorations, and festive fare is feverishly prepared. Flight, train and long distance coach tickets are quickly sold out as it is customary for Muslim families to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri together, while others take advantage of the two-day public holiday to go somewhere or return to their hometowns.
On the morning of the first day of Hari Raya, it is customary for the men to attend special prayers at the mosques, followed by a visit the cemetery with family members to pray for the departed souls of loved ones. They then make their way home to receive visiting relatives and friends. The noble act of asking for forgiveness from each other for all past wrongdoings and grievances is a must on this day. The rumah terbuka or open house concept is prevalent in the Malaysian culture especially during major festivals and celebrations like the Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Chinese New Year and Christmas. His Majesty, the King of Malaysia and Muslim government leaders also hold ‘open houses’ for the public at their official residences. Likewise in many homes throughout the country, family members visit each other and friends from different religious and ethnic communities are welcome to join in the celebration. Hari Raya Aidilfitri, is celebrated for 30 days and the festive greeting is “Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri”.