Muslims in Malaysia celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri in a big way after the month of Ramadhan, the Muslim month of fasting and abstinence. It is very symbolic as it represents victory for Muslims who have successfully undergone a month-long battle of self-restraint and abstinence by fasting. Fasting in the month of Ramadhan, an obligatory practice is one of the five pillars of Islam.
During this period, Muslims strengthen their spiritual bond with Allah the Almighty. The art of discipline and self-control is achieved by simply practicing restraint and abstinence from the many luxuries of life. From dawn to dusk, Muslims abstain from the animal virtues of sex, and lust. They neither eat nor drink until past sunset. This is a simple exercise to purify the soul and mind.
The celebration officially begins after the sighting of the crescent in the late evening on the last day of Ramadhan month, usually by religious officials at several vantage points throughout the country.
If the crescent is sighted, then the next day is declared as Hari Raya Aidilfitri as it is the first day of the Syawal month. Muslims celebrate it by going to the Hari Raya Aidilfitri prayers held at mosques early in the morning, then a visit to the cemetery to pray for their loved ones' departed souls after the prayers followed by the traditional Malaysian 'Open House' where relatives and friends visit each other.
Two special delicacies that could be savoured during Hari Raya Aidilfitri are ketupat (rice cooked in a packet woven from coconut leaves) and lemang (glutinous rice cooked with coconut milk in bamboo stems), both are served with rendang (meat cooked with spices and coconut milk until almost dry).