How they celebrate Raya in Malaysia

The end of Ramadan in Malaysia is called Raya. When I think about Raya, I think about cookies. Markets are full of them. They are sold in plastic boxes, layered on top of each other, in different colours. Some are covered in fake chocolate. Green, pink, dark and yellow. They are tiny,the size of a small plum. One fits perfectly in the mouth, making it easy to empty the box in less than a minute. During the three day celebration, some restaurants offer free Raya cookies. You can help yourself and have as much as you want. So we did. And we got lost in a cookie-land. For the last three days we were offered so many free cookies, that I was constantly high on sugar. I have tried so many types. They became a major part of my diet. My favourite ones were those little roll-like pastries filled with delicious peanut butter. Second place goes to the brittle coconut squares, coloured in bright green. Third place is awarded to the small, perfectly round light biscuits, that almost fall apart in the fingers. All are made mostly of custard sugar and white flour with a nutty flavour.

Raya is a time of fireworks too. I have never seen so many in my life. Spending the time on Perhentian Islands, we were watching colours bursting through the night sky from our hammocks in the evening . Right across the ocean, all along Malaysian east cost, there were balls of colorful lights exploding one after another. Sleeping in a hammock on a beach we could see the night sky at its best. When the firework show was finished, we went back to gazing at a dark sky filled with millions of stars.

Malaysian people during Raya seemed to be more relaxed and friendly. Their fast was over and they were happy to share their food. We came to Malaysia only for the last days of the fast. Still, during that time, we had felt a pinch of guilt when eating in public. Now the stores were open, food was everywhere, and we could join the feast!





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