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Wednesday, September 27, 2006


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Related posts:
Putting the Conservative Muslims' fear into perspective
The Mystery of Kongsi-Raya Remains a Mystery
De-Kongsi-fication of Malaysian Celebrations

Well guess what, sports fans? It's that time of year again for some Muslims to complain about using certain terms that combine Eid celebrations with another community's religious or cultural festival, which happens to coincide with (or is close enough to) Eid-ul Fitr - commonly known as Hari Raya Aidil Fitri in the Malay language.

Image hosting by PhotobucketTime once again for some to verbalize how offended they feel...
(original image from What have I gotta say)

What seems to be the root of the offense is the use of marketing gimmicky terms such as DeepaRaya, which will undoubtedly be used again this year, and all the associated cross-marketing, posters, TV/Radio ads, etc., that have come with dual-celebrations, of late (and not just limited to the Raya / Deepavali conjunction). Hari Raya is expected to fall on October 24, while Deepavali (or Diwali) falls a few days earlier on October 21.

DeepaRaya is probably a more catchy sounding term, as opposed to other possible combinations, such as Hari Vali, or Deepa Fitri, or Aidil Deepa, or any other possible linguistic combi. It just has a certain festive ring to it.

And really, the word Raya itself doesn't have any religious meaning, if you think about it. If that is the case, why isn't any offens taken with terms like:
- pasaRAYA (supermarket), or
- lebuhRAYA (highway), or
- balai RAYA (community hall), or even
- bandaRAYA (city)?

Or did Walski miss something, and these Muslims actually want to ban the usage of these words as well?
(more kongi-fied DeepaRaya thoughts in the full post)

And perhaps "festive" may be one area where the real problem lies - to some, celebrations like Eid-ul Fitr should be religious obseravtions, and nothing else apart from that. Traditionally though, here in Malaysia at least, Eid-ul Fitri is more than just a religious observation to celebrate the end of Ramadhan (although an important part of it), it has become an important celebration of a cultural nature.

Some might even say that it is a manifestation of selfishness on the part of some of these Muslims, making anything remotely Islam-related to be exclusive to Muslims only.

In the minds of some, though, even associating these two celebrations becomes sacriligious. So, what would be a solution? Cancel Deepavali? Well, most likely Hindus won't take very kindly to that. And definitely foregoing Eid-ul Fitr would be out of the question as well.

However, if one looks beyond the obvious, that Diwali is a Hindu (and therefore to them, pagan) celebration, and look at what the celebration represents, a slightly different dimension comes to light.

To the best of Walski's knowledge (and with the aid of online 'Net resources), from a Hindu point of view, Diwali represents a celebration of Light over Darkness (nevermind which deities are involved, because that's beside the point).

Triumph of Light over Darkness, juxtaposed onto other conceptual constructs, (apart from the obvious Good over Evil) could also mean:
- Enlightenment over Confusion
- Knowledge over Ignorance
- Peace over Hostility (granted, this one's a bit of a stretch)

Looking at it from this angle, doesn't Islam, in some respects, call for the very same thing from it's followers?

Think about it...

In the end, however, whether calling them by their individual names, or in a combined marketing-friendly way, there is one certainty that remains. The celebrations of Deepavali and Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, beyond the religious significance of each, are both about the shared Malaysian experience of celebrating as one nation.

Isn't it more fun to share, rather than to selfishly hawk over each individual piece, exclusive from the rest of fellow Malaysians? Or are fun and sharing to be made taboo, too, in times to come?