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Malaysia is well known for its diverse culture and friendly as well as well-mannered people. However, these nice, friendly people gave way to a certain wave of manias that came when it comes to celebrating their ‘raya’. Each time there are festivities, no matter what celebration it is, may it be Hari Raya, Chinese New Year or Deepavali, Malaysian of all ethnicity and religion seemingly blends into one. All of them are ‘diagnosed’ as ‘raya mania’ positive.
When it comes to raya, ‘everything-must-be-new’ mania seems to fall on every family home in the country. New curtains, new sofa set, new television, new furniture, new car, basically everything in view must be new – or at least look like new. Some goes to extreme of comparing with their neighbors who have the more expensive or the more beautiful or the more extravagant new things. A few days before raya this year, one of the top local radio station morning segment features the topic ‘lagak raya’ where the listeners would call in to brag about their coming raya preparation. Common sense would argue that no one would actually seriously call in to so, surprisingly a lot of them did. They talk about how many thousand ringgit they are going to spend on clothes alone, the ‘kuih raya’, and the renovation of house, buying new car and what not.
This ‘everything-must-be-new’ mania is accompanied or perhaps the reason for the shopping mania. Everywhere, so called ‘sales’ and reduction of prize were being held by the sellers. Malaysians of all races, religion, and age comes out and endure the traffic jam and the human ‘sardines’ situation to grab the opportunity to buy things at a seemingly ridiculous discount. No one really cares that some of the sellers took this opportunity to actually mark up their prizes. No one really cares that the ‘discounted’ prizes are actually the same as the actual cost. By the eve of raya, the prize of these items went even more ridiculously low, up to 90% discount of the initial prize they offer. This shows how high the prize had been marked up. Of course, by the time of raya eve, no one really cares anymore.
Another mania that could not be missed is the ‘need-for-speed’ mania that is extremely dangerous to the point of being fatal. Since festivities are one of the rare chance they actually manage to squeeze in time between their busy schedule to meet with their families and friends, all of them seems eager to get there quick. Thus, each year, during festivities, the accident statistics rise up and the awaited arrival becomes the heartbreaking departure. People seem to not care about road safety. When accidents occur, traffic jams are a definite sure thing that will follow. And thus many of them spend their raya in the car, stuck in traffic jams that take up hours of their time and cursing whoever caused the traffic jam.
One more mania that is no alien to the Malaysian culture is the all-you-can-eat mania. Open houses and parties and family dinners become an excuse for the people to eat whatever and in whatever amount they wish. After one house serve ‘Nasi daging,’ the next one served Laksa, and the next one serve Mee Udang and the list just keeps going on. Although their stomachs are full, they kept on putting in more for the sake of ‘tasting’ and for being ‘polite’. No wonder the amount of people admitted to hospitals for high pressure, diabetes and the like kept increasing.
These manias that befalls on Malaysian each ‘raya’ celebration is actually a disease that infected most if not all Malaysian whether they realize it or not. At an escalated level, it could be a pandemic, and create trouble.
There is nothing wrong to indulge oneself with some luxury once in a while but do it discreetly while considering other people and other factors as well. There’s no point spending each and every dime now to have such short-time luxury, when the next two or three months or year you need to be content with instant noodles and sky juice for lunch just for the sake of footing the bills. There’s no point in trying to get there fast if in the end, you ended up not getting there at all. Remember, safety comes first.
The Malaysian ‘raya’ mania probably won’t die anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean, we can’t be amongst the one to start first. Perhaps, our attitude will affect our family, and friends, and soon, everyone will practice the same thing. That may very well be a distant and impossible dream, but one cannot dream enough. So it isn’t such a bad thing. We just do what we can albeit slowly. After all, despite the manias and perhaps because of these manias that each and every year we continue to enjoy our raya holidays. And perhaps because some of these related characteristics, we were able to be who we were, Malaysian, one nation, one country, one Malaysia.