International and domestic travel restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Malaysia over the past two years have seen many Malaysians who work away from their hometowns and out of the country delay returning home. Even if they stayed put in Malaysia, the last two years have meant lockdowns, self-isolation and postponing meetings with loved ones and friends, especially those categorised as vulnerable.
Now with a majority of the population fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and Malaysia easing travel restrictions as it looks towards entering the endemic phase, the stage is set for heartfelt and tearful Raya Reunions to happen across the country come to 1 Syawal.
For many eager returnees, it won't just be about seeing dearly missed loved ones in person again. It will also be about renewing bonds, cherishing memories and creating new ties.
For those waiting to welcome them home with open arms, the time for reunion can't come soon enough. Online messaging and video calls are wonderful tools to stay in touch, but they can never replace the human touch.
1. The Living Room
The living room is the main location in your home during Raya where you will spend most of your time receiving, hosting and entertaining your guests, so comfortable seating is a top priority. Nowadays, a wide range of modern furniture options is available to suit different styles, functions, and budgets. Whether you are looking to replace, upgrade or downsize seating options in your living room, you'll be spoilt for choice.
If you are not planning to replace your existing sofa set just yet, you can still give it a facelift by getting new covers or reupholstering, especially if it is starting to bear the signs of wear and tear. Stylish cushions are a budget-friendly way to add comfort as well as a fresh look to your seating arrangements. If you're into DIY, restaining or painting wooden furniture is a practical way to refresh worn down furniture.
You also don't have to break your budget to set the mood for Hari Raya Aidilfitri. A fresh coat of paint, simple but stylish wall and ceiling décor, ambient lighting, new carpets and new curtains can go a long way in giving the living room a needed facelift without busting your tabung duit.
Placing potted plants and flowers on tables and at strategic locations are quick ways to brighten up the living room. For those who love DIY projects, creating a personalised display of treasured family photos and items will not only provide a focal point for the eyes but also act as a conversation starter for the inevitable trips down memory lane.
If space allows, you might even want to set up a special photography corner where you and your guests can pose for all the Raya selfies and wefies as well as video the inevitable live 'gram and TikTok updates. It's been a while since the whole family and gang were able to get together so it makes sense to record the occasion to add it to your treasure trove of precious memories.
2. The Dining Room
This is the second most popular spot to gather in the home aside from the living room. It's a favourite spot for family members and friends to catch-up with the advantage of being closer to the kitchen, and hence closer to the food to fuel the borak sessions. It's also where family favourites take centre stage, whether it be Atuk's homemade lemang and satay sauce, Nenek's tender beef rendang or Mak's delectable kek hati pari.
Now might be the time to think about expanding seating options, especially if the number of in-laws, grandkids and cousins has grown over the past two years. Consider extendable dining tables, sitting stools and benches to ensure everyone around the table is within arm's reach of Kak Timah's delicious ayam masak merah and the extra servings of fluffy white rice to soak up every drop of the tastebud-tingling sauce.
Wall and ceiling décor as well as a centrepiece table display are fun ways to add colour and vibrancy to the dining room. If you're so inclined. matching table cloth, placemats, and dinnerware can also be coordinated by colour and design to fit your Raya Reunion theme.
3. The Bedroom
There's no better feeling than falling asleep in your own bed, especially if you've been away from home for two years. However, you might have to share if there are more people in the house than beds. Aside from upgrading bed size, adding a pullout sofa can help to solve the problem of seating and sleeping arrangements. Other options to consider include air mattresses and sleeping bags. In a pinch, the living room sofa can also do double duty as an extra bed for the cousins and grandkids who are probably going to stay up the whole night talking anyway.
4. The Outdoors
With more Malaysians living in urban areas, Raya Reunions are just as likely to take place in condominiums as they are in the kampung.
But that doesn't mean you can't take advantage of the outdoors as many apartments and flats also have access to private balconies which can accommodate a dining bench or outdoor furniture set. Not only will it provide additional seating, but the balcony is the perfect spot to get fresh air as you take in the surrounding scenery while catching up with family and friends over a cup of piping hot coffee or tea. Not just during Raya but at any time of the year. Adding plants, fairy lights, wind chimes and dreamcatchers can bring a touch of festivity to the exterior of your apartment or house.
After two years of lockdowns and being away from family and friends, it's no wonder anticipation is building for this coming Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Whether your planned celebration is big or small, it has always been the people who make it worth the effort, so make the most of the opportunity to make this an unforgettable Raya Reunion.