For those who are not familiar with warm climates, it can be quite a challenge observing Ramadan in Malaysia as it often gets very hot and dry during this month. But experiencing Ramadan in Malaysia has its own merits as the atmosphere is warm and friendly.
The first day of Ramadan is a public holiday in the states of Melaka, Johor and Kedah. Most offices close at least an hour early during this month, and you can see an unusual amount of vehicles on the roads all rushing to get home to prepare for the day’s breaking of fast (iftar).
A Malaysian tradition every Ramadan is the making and distribution of ‘bubur lambuk’, a creamy rice porridge made of meat pieces, coconut milk, spices and other flavorful condiments. The most popular and much sought-after is the Kampung Baru Mosque’s version.
Every day, as many as 20 huge vats of porridge are cooked daily by the mosque’s committee members and preparations start as early as 8 in the morning. By 4 p.m., long lines start to form for the porridge, and distribution normally starts around 5 p.m., after Asr prayers. Kampung Baru’s bubur lambuk is touted to be the best in the country with an unparalleled taste, created using a traditional recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation.
Perhaps the most special and distinguishing aspect of Ramadan in Malaysia is the Ramadan food bazaars that can be found at almost every corner all over the country, offering a huge array of mouth-watering delicacies for you to break your fast with. A visit to these bazaars are a feast for the senses, especially olfactory, as you will be surrounded by all kinds of wonderful smells wafting in the air as you walk from one end to the other. It is worth visiting a different bazaar every day as each bazaar offers a different experience and menu. It is advisable to plan what you want to buy beforehand and bring just enough cash as it is easy to get carried away at a Ramadan bazaar – resulting in you buying more than what you can stomach, which defeats the purpose of the holy month.
A festive atmosphere can be felt throughout the month. Major shopping malls, especially in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, would be lavishly decorated with an elaborate and often creative Eid centerpiece in the concourse area. Shopping hotspots for Eid are Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and Jalan Masjid India in Kuala Lumpur, which would be packed to the brim with shoppers and great bargains day and night during Ramadan. For an even better deal, pay these places a visit a day before Eid as most items would be offered at rock-bottom prices to clear off stock.
Local Eid songs can be heard playing on the radio and in shopping malls, adding to the festive mood. Come nightfall, mosques would be filled with Muslims from all walks of life coming together to perform the Tarawih prayers. After the end of each Tarawih session, a small supper called ‘moreh’ is served within the mosque’s compound, prepared and cooked by volunteers. A sense of camaraderie is apparent as everyone sits close together and shares the meal. Houses decorated with twinkling fairy lights or the more traditional paraffin-fuelled lamps made from tin cans or bamboo sticks are quite a common sight at night during Ramadan, as are children playing with sparklers and fireworks. — Courtesy of Islamic Tourism Center of Malaysia