Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Since Malaysia is a Muslim-dominant country, the celebration of Rahmadan becomes quite a central focus of living for everyone (whether Muslim or not) during the month. Rahmadan is most widely recognized as a time of fasting... observers eat only at night and obstain from food or drink from sun-rise to sun-set. I thought a picture of my favorite place in the supermarket would be appropriate, since it is food-related. This island is right in the middle of the produce section and as you can see contains piles of powdered spices-- Indian spices-- that draw me toward them & make my mouth water like Thanksgiving. There are countless curries, cumin, coriander, dozens of spices I've never even heard of before. If you want something you ask the worker standing at the end and they'll measure and weigh it out for you (I believe the prices listed are per kilogram). I usually make sure to walk by this little oasis, even if I don't need anything near there, just for the pick-me-up.
But back to Rahmadan...
As fervent observers might point out, there is more to this month than just the fasting... it is a time of strong spiritual awareness, of focusing on good deeds, moderation in behavior and thought, etc. I found this interesting tidbit on the web and thought you might be interested:
"Rahmadan is derived from an Arabic word for intense heat, scorched ground, and shortness of rations. It is an opportunity for us to scorch away all our misdeeds, transgressions, and other negative accumulations during the year."
Pretty thought-provoking stuff. So, how has this observance of Rahmadan affected our little Mormon family from Utah? First of all, office hours for our apartment have changed; second, we were planning on visiting the zoo last Saturday evening (where they are usually open until around 11:00pm on the weekends) but they are closing at 5:00pm for the remainder of the month in observance of Rahmadan (I'm assuming that's so people can get home to eat with their families after fasting all day); also, some of our taxi drivers have been slightly more irritable than usual; however, on a more positive note, there seem to be food stalls and buffets at local establishments springing up like weeds... apparently after fasting all day, people are ready to par-tay at night. So, aside from our postponed zoo trip, we can't really complain about "life during Rahamadan."
The pic below is the row of different rices that are available, also at our local supermarket... and remember this isn't even the full gamut... it continues on the other side as well.
(By the way, I want to thank everyone who emailed or posted comments on the site about their own horrific "toilet escapades" in foreign lands, as well as their personal cockroach nightmares. I have never been so utterly horrified in all my life. Thank you.)