Time really flies, in just a few more days we mark the beginning of Syawal. After fasting from sunrise to sunset for a month, Muslims will be celebrating Aidilfitri. Post General Election victory by the Pakatan Harapan coalition, the country is enjoying ‘tax holiday’ with 0% GST from June to August, really timely for those preparing for the festive season.
As in previous years, shopping malls put up Raya themed decorations to welcome the festive season. There is a more varied concept in this year’s decorations from the 5 malls I managed to visit.
Over in Mid Valley, this year’s decorations are centred on a traditional wooden Malay house surrounded by wooden stalls. Pink and red bougainvilleas in full bloom and covering the roofs add vibrancy to the kampung style setting.
Visitors can learn the art of weaving and ketupat making in the workshops organised by the mall. It’s a good effort by the mall to promote this beautiful handicraft and tradition to Malaysians and the younger generations.
Similarly, a traditional kampung house takes centre stage at Suria KLCC. The furnishing is simple and basic reflecting the much simpler and blissful life of villagers. It’s ‘Ramadan Raya’ theme is to create nostalgic feelings of celebrating a joyful and traditional Raya in the villages with family and friends.
And of course the record breaking giant ketupat surrounded by colourful waus is once again placed at the KLCC Esplanade. The giant ketupat is best viewed at night when the lights come on.
Walking through an arch with Malay motifs, giant flowers and oil lamps or pelita, shoppers step into a celebration of hopes and dreams at Pavilion. Themed ‘Raya Seribu Impian’, the shopping mall also encourages shoppers to donate to various children’s homes to fulfill dreams of the less fortunate.
Giant flowers and lights also lined the Spanish steps leading to the Centre Court. The Centre Court is transformed into a Raya wonderland with dazzling stars and a special moon swing designed by Swarovski.
Traditional elements such as wicker tray (tudung anyaman), batik and oil lamps add to the festive feel. Giant flowers made from mengkuang mats add a dash of colour to the decorations.
1 Utama Shopping Centre goes for a strong Moroccan flavour for this year’s Ikatan Silaturahim decoration. Shoppers are transported into a Moroccan town complete with a fountain and palm trees.
A small area with carpets and throw pillows is tempting visitors to sit back and relax while shoppers are busy shopping for their Raya clothes, traditional delicacies or charming décor.
My favourite decorations this year is the one put up at The Curve. Themed Senandung Syawal, the mall’s Centre Court has been transformed into a train station of the bygone days when Keretapi Tanah Melayu operated slow trains pulled by diesel locomotives. This nostalgic concept is to evoke fond memories of the balik kampung (going back to hometowns) rush during the golden age of train travel in the 60s and 70s. Today, thousands of Malaysians still make this journey every year to celebrate Raya with their families and loved ones.
The train station features a train track, waiting area with row of wooden benches and ticket counter. The waiting area also has classic advertising posters promoting Milo and Susu Cap Junjung as well as empty soft drinks bottles!
Visitors can ‘experience’ train travel by the older generation by hopping onboard the vintage train complete with wooden seats and luggage racks. The 6.66 metre long coach can seat 12 people at a time.
With that, to those who will start their balik kampung journeys soon, have a pleasant and safe journey. Wishing all Muslims Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Happy Holidays.