Like, how great is the Ramadan and Syawal combo?

If there’s one thing i know for sure in life, it’s that we have to always strive to keep everything in balance.

You know what i’m talking about. From retaining a bit of childhood to growing up, to the ever-elusive work hard-play hard maxim, to performing ibadat for the Afterlife yet achieving excellence in the current life, to ensuring your appearance is well-kept yet not to get too caught up in it… everyday, every challenge relates to this uncanny skill that seem natural to some, harder for others (like me).

Now that we are nearing the eve of Syawal and the end of Ramadan, I realise that there is really something great about the combination of the two beautiful months. Ramadan particularly is a month of fasting – not just from the obvious food and drink (and cigarettes, which apparently is even harder to give up for smokers) but also from all usual desires and bad habits. It is a time for giving, performing more intense rituals than usual, and discovering again your spiritual closeness to your Creator.

Syawal, starting from the wonderful Eid ul Fitri, seems to be the month for living it up. You celebrate the first day with special prayers, dressed in your best clothing (probably more cultural than religious) and surrounded by excellent food and company of your extended family. You ask for forgiveness from your parents, siblings, spouse, other family members and friends (and what a lovely practice that is). Heck, this continues for the rest of the month – where everybody’s in a good mood, bombarded by open house invitations and eat enough food to last a year.

We are way too small, weak and insignificant to really fully understand God’s blessings to us (or at least I am anyway), but I do believe that these two months are the most special period in the Muslim calendar for all of us. We are to learn discipline and control, and strive to come back to the core. Be reminded of the poor and less fortunate, and try help them out as much as we can. We hope that we are still around next year, to celebrate another beautiful round of the two months. And we hope year in, year out, it will make us stronger, happier, healthier – and better people.

This time last year I was working in Melbourne, helping to fund my husband’s studies and our life together with our son. It was difficult to be away from family (the last time celebrating Eid abroad was when I was 22 years old in the UK – and that was a whole different story altogether) and I laboured over my own home made beef rendang, but it was a great experience which I hope one day we can experience again (perhaps in Mecca).

But really, there’s nothing like celebrating the two beautiful and meaningful months at home, in the country where I was born, with my family and friends, fully immersed within the atmosphere. Being able to ask for forgiveness from my mom – who has really worked so hard for all us girls; from my siblings (this one tends to be easier, since we just kosong-kosong with each other); and of course my dear husband, who I know I have a lot to ask forgiveness from, and to be grateful for. I hope I can try and be a better daughter, sister, wife and mother for the next coming year and all the years to come. Insya Allah.

And for you, dear readers, hope you have a blessed Eid. Thanks for reading and appreciating; it means a lot to me, and I do apologize if I’ve ever written an offending word or two. See you after the holidays!

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