TRADITIONALLY, Hari Raya Aidilfitri is celebrated with much joy, abundant food, morning prayers, visits to the graveyards, visits by friends and relatives and the young asking for forgiveness from their elders.
These few years, however, a new trend has been added to these noble traditions. Young children whom you have never seen before are now coming in droves to your house to ask for forgiveness and expect duit raya in return.
Not too long ago, you only gave duit raya to family members, relatives and children of the neighbours. Now, the list has been extended to include every youngster who comes a-calling.
These are not children from the far-end corner of your housing area whom you hardly talk to or some distant, long-forgotten cousins.
Most of the time, they do not even know the owner of the house or any other member of the family. They come in large or small groups from different areas of the towns or villages, moving patiently from house to house with a mission to collect as much duit raya as they can.
Their presence can be very embarrassing, unpleasant and totally unfair for the hosts as many of these young, uninvited guests are not there to get to know you or for the food and drinks.
They are there for the money. It can be an expensive and time-consuming affair as your small guests sit awkwardly and you try to make small talk.
At the end of the day, it is not unusual for these duit raya hunters to compare and boast of the amount of money they have amassed in such a short period. Their collections sometimes run into hundreds of ringgit!
Many Muslims do not see this silent, undignified practice as an affront and insult to the real meaning and purpose behind Hari Raya. In fact, Muslim society in general seems to accept and condone it.
Some parents see it as a harmless enterprise and even encourage their children without realising that they are turning their young, innocent children into shameless beggars.
As a matter of fact, it is not wrong to give and get duit raya, but it is wrong to tarnish the noble traditions of Hari Raya by going from house to house of people you do not know just for the money.
Presumably an offshoot of the Chinese tradition of giving ang pow during Chinese New Year, the practice has outdone the Chinese in many ways.
The fact is that during Chinese New Year, many Chinese only visit people they know and the ang pow are given only to unmarried relatives, close friends and the neighbours’ children.
Parents, teachers and the Muslim community must be made aware of this pervasive money-driven practice that has already evolved into a tradition of sorts.
Perhaps our ministers too should take a hard look at the practice of handing out duit raya and ang pow at their open houses during the festive seasons. It is a silent endorsement of the act and should not be encouraged.
On such occasions, I do not envy our beloved Prime Minister and wife standing bravely, big smiles on their faces, tirelessly disposing of hundreds of duit raya packets or ang pow to rows and rows of people. Alkut Kota Baru The STAR Home News Opinion Letters 15 July 2015