Saturday, September 1, 2012

Hari Raya open house

The invitation

The holy month of Ramadhan has just  recently passed and more than a billion Muslims in Malaysia and other parts of the world are still celebrating Eid Mubarak or in this country it's more popularly known as "Aidil Fitri". As usual after Ramadan, Muslims in Malaysia will be competing amongst each other to find the most suitable dates to have their open houses. Normally ,the open houses are celebrated during the weekends.Yours truly have a number of open houses to attend this weekend. Today , there is one open house invited by Prof. Rujhan in PutraJaya after 2.00 pm.  Yesterday, it was an open house by our young, esteemed and car crazy  Ustad somewhere in Kajang Utama. Next week, there are also more open houses to attend. Basically, for the weekends my other half just does not  have to worry about preparing lunches. This is not to say that she cooks everyday.

One thing that I notice about open houses is that it's getting more formal and more elaborate with more  variety of dishes churned out or  ordered from the best caterer. The open house yesterday was reasonably elaborate with "Kambing bakar golek" or the  whole lamb skewered and barbecued. Guests at the open house were lining up to have the tender lamb served together with garlic bread and mushroom soup. The sauce that was served with the lamb slices was slightly tangy and hot but suits nicely with the Malaysian taste buds. It was not just the barbecued lamb but  "Otak-otak", "Soto", "Bihun soup', "Ketupat"," Lemang" and 'Rendang" were also served. Last year, at the same house the host was only serving satay and the usual traditional Malay dishes. One would say that the types of dishes served have improved by leaps and bounds. Yours truly also attended another open house last week in Bandar Baru Bangi and the host served the long grain "Nasi Arab". It's the real nasi Arab.  It's so unusual for the host to serve "Nasi Arab" during the Raya open house.My children of course would savour the main dish until they were really full like a food laden python.

I also notice that the open house practiced today has become more of the "touch- n -go" thing meaning the guest would come in and give  salam to the host and would just find a place  to sit and and later immediately lining up to get the best tasting dishes. After having the dishes the guest would do a survey of the buffet spread again and get more food to consume. After having an almost full stomach as usual he or she will find excuses to leave the open house. The whole process will be completed in just 20-25 minutes. There is  no exchage of greetings among the guests and no long chats beteween the hosts and the guests. The host would just move around for that " touch and go greetings". The open house has become a " hi and bye bye thing"
Open house is almost like a wedding ceremony?

I also noticed that the open houses that I attended recently all are getting more elaborate in terms off their preparations especially in terms of the "Khemah" or the canopies. All the two open  houses that I went to were planned  with 2-3 giant "khemahs". It's also prepared like a wedding occasion but minus the bride and  groom. Everything else was much like a wedding ceremony. I think even the food served at the open house is even better than a "kenduri" ( wedding feast). Eating the "kenduri" dishes is like a chore and very mundane. Hosts of the open houses normally spend around RM 5000 to have that supposedly "simple" occassion. The dishes at the open house are getting better. How  time has changed.

Nowadays, the open house is actually a "closed" system. Previously, an open house is minus the special  invitation but the open house of today comes with a proper invitation very much also like a wedding ceremony. To attend  an open house you need to be invited using a very formal invitation card but not the thick card that looks more like a book  that you order from Indonesia or Thailand. This is not really open in the real sense. Previously, when I had an open house I would just make a open and general invitation and people would just come. Sometimes there were people at the open house that you have not met before. This is a true meaning of an open house. The one that we have at present is not an open one except for  the one celebrated and organized by the royalty  and the government ministers. The open house today is not truly open. It's sad.

I think we should go back to basics and celebrate "Aidl Fitri" in its true sense. Have open houses but make it truly open where people can come and chat and strengthen their friendships. This tradition should be continued. Yours truly home in Bandar Baru Bangi is always open. Please come as you don't need a formal invitation. "Selamat Hari Raya".

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