KUALA LUMPUR : Malaysia’s Muslims marked the Eid-ul-Fitr festival on Saturday as the country sees economic recovery, instilling a more positive vibe in the country following years of disruptions and uncertainty.
With a renewed interest in international travel and trade, Malaysians looked forward to the festival, which typically begins with a trip back to hometowns and a reunion with family members, reports Xinhua news agency.
For sales executive Nadirah Naim, this year will be a more joyous celebration as the economy has jump-started and all forms of pandemic restrictions have been withdrawn, encouraging her family and relatives to meet up without hesitation.
“Last year was not easy. (COVID-19) cases were still high. My company was not certain about its future and there was talk of reducing the number of staff. It was still a gloomy time,” she told Xinhua.
“But this year there is a feeling of being set free. My job is stable, and I do not have the same anxiety that I faced previously. My family will be meeting up in our hometown in Negeri Sembilan (state). I am looking forward to seeing them, especially those who I have not seen in years,” she added.
Meanwhile, Khairudin Nizam, who operates a consultancy in Kuala Lumpur also chimed in, explaining that he felt he had more to spend this year and would do so to make up for previous years, when he could not celebrate as freely.
“Our family’s hometown is right in this state, but we have not met each other often, even during the Eid-ul-Fitr season of last year. There was still uncertainty, whether from the pandemic or the poor economy. But things have turned around. This year will be the first real celebration in the recent years,” he said.
The movement of people to their hometowns is especially felt in the capital Kuala Lumpur, with the usually busy roads being relatively free, with more tourists than locals walking around in parts of the city.
This contrasts with heavy traffic along the country’s main interstate highways, with the Malaysian Highway Authority expecting an increased volume of 2.3 million cars daily over the festival period.
The country’s king Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah urged Malaysians to be grateful for the peaceful coexistence of the various ethnic and religious groups in the country, who are free to conduct worship and celebrate their respective festivals with joy and excitement.
“Transcending borders and differences, Malaysians celebrate holy festivals of various religions in harmony and by visiting each other. Malaysians can also continue their daily lives with a sense of tolerance and without any gaps between races and religions,” he said in a televised speech.
For his part, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim called on Malaysians to strengthen unity by visiting each other during the festival period, in a separate address.
He also spoke on the importance of promoting mercy and compassion in Malaysia’s pursuit of development and progress.
“I would also like to stress that the spirit of unity and sacrifice be fostered and the attitude of kindness and mercy be extended to the weak and destitute and those who are marginalised,” he said.
Malaysia is one of the most multicultural nations in Southeast Asia, with a population of about 33 million. — IANS