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Yesterday, it was our pleasure to return back to the Guildford Malay food stalls and partake in their “open house.”
For those unfamiliar with the concept, “open house” is one of the defining aspects of the Malaysian identity and way of life.
One day each year, households would invite not only friends and family to their homes, but complete strangers. You could walk into a person’s home, and receive their hospitality and food.
In many parts of Malaysia, this custom has been embraced not only by Malays but also the Chinese and Indian communities.
As a nyonya (Peranakan), Malay customs and traditions flow through my veins, and I probably identify more with Malay values than Chinese rituals and beliefs.
Malay is my third language (after Cantonese and English), but I grew up in a Malay village (kampung), so I spent most of my childhood speaking exclusively in Malay.
So, being surrounded by Malays and hearing Malay spoken, whilst eating delicious food, brought a sense of connectedness and belonging that almost brought me to tears. This is probably the closest I will ever feel of the joy of “returning back to the home village” (balik kampung). Although I grew up to be a sophisticated city girl living in Australia, deep inside is a tiny child.
Yes, all the food and drinks were free and offered with a warm smile and kind generosity. We were careful not to grab more than we can comfortably eat, we did not want to offend our kind hosts.
“Semoga sinar Aidilfitri membawa kemeriahan dan kebahagiaan di samping orang yang tersayang. Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri! Dengan ingatan tulus ikhlas, maaf zahir batin.”