The mornings of the first day of Syawal is full of warmth and love. We pour our hearts out, see tears roll down our cheeks and round up the moment in a warm embrace after seeking forgiveness from our elders. What actually ensues though for the rest of the day? Cue annual family portrait shots and a dizzying array of dishes, but is that all there is to this blessed day?
It can be pretty ironic at times. Even though Hari Raya is a time to reflect and start off on a clean slate, the nature of the gathering seems to breed more opportunity for gossip above anything else. Whether you’re fresh out of university or almost having your first grandchild, you’re not spared. While folks devour their favourite Hari Raya classics, it becomes almost second nature to begin divulging about others.
Don’t get me wrong, I truly believe in the spirit of catching up (inserts fostering silaturrahim here) and keeping each other up to date about the latest happenings. But, there is a fine line between having a genuine conversation versus probing about one’s private life for personal pleasure.
“Bila nak kahwin?”
When are you getting married?
“Bila nak ada anak?”
When are you going to have kids?
“Bila nak dapat menantu?”
When are you going to have a son/daughter-in-law?
“Bila nak ada cucu?”
When are you going to have grandchildren?
Hari Raya in this modern age seems to be a convenient time for relatives to poke and probe about certain topics time and again. It can be particularly dreadful for some to even visit their loved ones because these questions take a toll.
The occasion becomes an interrogation session about why you’re not up-to-date with their supposed deadlines (read: have a job by 21, be married by 24, have kids before 30). For those who take their questioning even further, it might even result in sarcastic remarks being passed and all of this dampens the day’s aura.
The importance of speaking mindfully and being sensitive cannot be further emphasised. After all, it is part of showing Rahmah (mercy in Arabic) and practising adab to others. Some may argue that we shouldn’t be taking such trivial matters so seriously and that it is all in the name of fun. The important point here though is that it’s frustrating to always be at the receiving end of questions that border on your personal space.
At times, these questions might even leave a deep impact. For example, if you were to ask a married couple when they’ll be having children without knowing that they’ve actually been struggling with fertility issues for years, it may trigger deep-seated emotions.
I personally believe that Hari Raya is such an opportune time to engage in honest and real conversations about things that matter. It should be a time where you interact and discuss meaningful issues for the betterment of all parties. It should not be a time for mindless chatter that can honestly be done on any other day.
While recalling some of the conversations I had on my first day of Eid, I could recall more aimless questions than a real exchange of words. Has the value of a conversation of quality been lost? I understand that after not seeing each other for a year, such questions might be asked out of curiosity. But, more often than not, the tone and “aggressive probing” stems from a busybody nature.
Gossiping is just one aspect but of course, there are other examples of how “nightmarish” Eid can be. Guests that show up unexpectedly (or at 2359 hours), those who leave your house in an utter mess (toys everywhere) and don’t bother to help, those who callously pass remarks about the food (“tak sedap”) and those who body shame others. These actions can really ruin the whole Eid mood.
Bring back the days when we told stories of the past.
Bring back the days when we could seek proper advice.
Bring back the days when we offered positive words of reaffirmation.
We must make a concerted effort to respect everyone and not tarnish the sanctity of Eid by offending or hurting others.
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said:
“Be merciful to those on earth, so the One above the heavens will be merciful to you.”
[Imam Al-Tabarani and Al-Hakim]
For all the makciks (and pakciks) who love to quiz others about their personal lives, stop and try to engage in a proper, meaningful conversation. Let Hari Raya be a bridge for you to foster closer ties and bond over delectable food. The next time someone decides to get married, be rest assured you’ll receive a wedding invitation.
Also read: Celebrating Eid in Singapore, As Told by the HalalZilla Team