The Raya Race

Ahhh…the things we take for granted. My Singaporean self is so used to celebrating Eid or Hari Raya on the same day, yesterday’s hulla-bulloo was a tad overwhelming and regardless, very exciting!

It started the moment I parked my car at Kerrisdale, heart leaping with joy as I was about to hop myself to Pier 1 Imports to get me some nice cookie containers and Fall accents for the house. DH and I planned to drive to Mission on Raya Eve to sleepover and spend Raya there – so our house has to be ready before we take the long drive. Eve of Raya is not till the next day, so I was patting my own back for being one day early in my prep.

That’s when my phone ring (yes right after I got out of the car, typical dramatic point!) and it was MIL. She said the mosque nearest to the Mission house is celebrating Raya the next day ! What ? But I am not ready, I said ! So she asked what method are we following – and I told her I have to call her back in an hour while I consult the resident ‘ustaz’ in my house, DH.

As I stood there flustered by the prospect that I may not be having my first ever Raya abroad with my only family here – my in-laws, I understandably could not find any coins to insert into the parking machine. Darn. This is not a good time to park illegally in Kerrisdale, I thought. The street was very busy and I need to get my shopping done. But if Raya is the next day, I also need to get home so we can get to Mission on time.

Then as if on cue, the (sometimes) annoying Blackberry had a red light. An email came from a good friend here, and the title? “Eid Tommorrow”, or something like that. Arrggh!! Is this serious?! Eid is suppose to be on Saturday, not Friday – the day before I need to go shopping leisurely! I called her and had a yakkety yak about my own confusion, and she did a quick briefing of the different methods – global and local sighting, and how DH and I have to basically decide which method we follow. The reason? Mosques in Vancouver (and mostly Canada and US) differ in the methods – so it depends on which method you are comfortable with. She follows the global sighting method.

So I called DH, who took my call with the most calm and unperturbed manner when it comes to Eid-Day excitement. Typical engineer self versus bohemian social science person.

Me ? I was so excited I must have spoken so fast, that I can barely understood myself. I wanted to know when WE are celebrating Eid. Basically – are we global sighters or local sighters, I asked. “Why is that a question?”, he said. “We follow local sighting, no question. So we have to wait until the local sighting mosques make an annoucement”. Wait? Did I hear WAIT ? But there is no waiting in Singapore! We just KNOW when Raya is and plan our lives way ahead of it!!

The next 2 hours of my life, between Kerrisdale and my place – my mind was whirling with all the “Why must this happen to me on my first Raya abroad ?? ” thoughts. Yes, negative ones. You see, as a virgin on celebrating Raya abroad, I was calculated in taking care of not being too sad about being away from my own family and friends. I thought that hey, just don’t be in 2 minds about wanting to be in 2 different places for Raya, celebrate with the in laws and the Malay Muslim families in Vancouver and I should be able to forget the ‘missing Singapore’ bit. But if Raya is to be celebrated on Friday as announced by that 1st mosque, I am in danger. Because I assumed that most Malay Muslim families and my in-laws would follow THAT mosque since it is very near their homes. And so my celebration fantasy will dissapear into thin air. I had initially wanted to celebrate Raya with my friend and her family too, but since she has planned to visit some families in Victoria (an offshore island off Vancouver), I had meticulously erased THAT celebration fantasy off my head. I am left with the in-laws and Malay Muslim families as my respite, so they cannot be celebrating a day ahead of me!

Yes, yes, I know. Selfish minds. It is called pain management, ok.

The long wait finally came to a close when I educated myself with what the global sighting and local sighting method is, by reading, making calls and reflecting. It was the fastest discourse I have ever done when it comes to religious matters, but I concur with DH’s decision on using the local sighting method. So now that my heart is rested well about WHEN Raya will be for us, we waited for the big announcement if there were any local sighting of the Syawal crescent in Western Canada.

When in anxiety, you should zikir yes? Well I did, for a few minutes. My hand then picked up the phone to call who else but ? Yes, Mak. Told her about the hulla-bulloo and she was so amused by it and how I am ‘suffering’. Thank God Mak has a sense of humour. If she has been the bawling type who waxes lyrical about oh-why-must-you-be-so-far-away-on-Raya-day , then I would be in tears faster than an F1 pit stop. Her cheerfulness cheered me up, so I was upbeat again. Another respite came from a close friend in Singapore who called and after hearing out my rapid-fire anxiety of uncertain Raya celebration, she said, “Oh dear !! Oh dear !! Major dilemma for you, man ! Jalan Raya fun or completing Ramadan!”. Darn. Hit home like nail. I thought I grew up.

A few hours passed and finally announcements were made by other mosques about when Eid will be. No crescent was sighted locally so Raya will be on Saturday. MIL decided to follow local sighting too and so my entire in-laws family will be having Raya on Saturday, yay! So its back to Plan A – clean up the house, drive to Mission, cook up a storm with MIL, gorging on the Kuih Makmur and Kuih Tat that SIL and me made over 6 hours that day, etc etc. Raya will be on Saturday and I assume the Malay Muslim families on that part of Vancouver are doing it then too. Ah bliss.

After our last terawih together, DH and I went to the supermarket to get last minute supplies – yes fresh flowers included. I may not have the fun of ‘stealing’ leaves from the Chinese cemetery in Singapore with my kookoo cousins this year, but heck, I am paying for them this time.

Selamat Hari Raya everyone.


  1. I’m a Singaporean staying in Downtown. I’m chinese but wanna wish you selamat hari raya!! great to discover yr blog.. pretty interesting 🙂

  2. Hi there

    Thank you for your well wishes. Its always nice to ‘meet’ fellow Singaporeans here in the great white north, even in cyberspace 🙂

    You can imagine then the uncertainty of when Raya day falls here, we are so used to uniform and straight Singapore! 🙂 But it is always good to learn new ways of doing things, I guess.

    Hope you are not missing Singapore food too much.

  3. Selamat Hari Raya babe! I think God threw in all that fuss just to have you experience the real wonders of Shawal… How it was for our parents. Hope you had a ball. I ate 10 FULL meals in the past two days! Haha! I miss you.

  4. Azreen: I think so too. I cannot imagine how it was for them chasing chickens on raya eve!! Heh. Miss you too babe, especially on Raya day at Mak Besar’s house. Next month aku balik, yay!!

    Nazrah: Just read your blog, glad you had great day with your daddy and siblings. Nak rasa itu sup buntut lah!! (I dont think I ever had one EVER).

    Selamat Hari Raya to u too.

  5. Bom. Selamat Hari Raya. Maaf Zahir dan Batin. Did you say you were coming home soon??


  6. Oni: yes in late Nov – end Dec. I have to oversee post production for a doc. Pirates and prata make a good combination, yes? 🙂

  7. Kesian you… all the fuss about when Raya should be celebrated. I’m sure it was quite an experience. Anyways, from all four of us (kiddies & me) in Sengkang, Salam Lebaran and hope you had a wonderful celebration :)Call me or any of the girls, Nina, Ata or whoeverlah when you’re back in Singapore k?

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