15 September 2010
Selamat Hari Raya- unity in diversity
After many years of not being able to celebrate Hari Raya (eid-ul-fitr) with my Muslim side of the family, I finally got the chance this year. My mom's cousins, the uncle and aunties, have aged well and they could hardly recognize me. Well, the last time I saw all of them was when I was about 10 yrs old. Living away from home somehow has distanced me from them.
It was a pleasure to be with them once again. Indeed, blood is thicker than water. One of the aunts asked me whether my brother the priest has safely come home. She said when she saw the wars at other countries on tv she kept thinking and worrying of relatives who were far away. And her face lighted up when I told her that my brother is safe and sound, serving at one of the churches in KK. The conversation might seem weird to people who are of not a diverse-belief background, but to us it is natural. My muslim aunt is proud to have a nephew who is a priest because she's hoping for him to do good to humanity.
The uncle emphasized on the importance of being tolerant and be united for the sake of our safety in this country. These simple folks might never have been away from their homeland, but they've seen enough war reports in the media to appreciate their peaceful home. Uncle said, "when you pray, pray for the safety of our country. May we always live in peace". And then he went on to say, " it is my ritual to advise the young people of my staff members to pray, always for safety, if you are a muslim, pray the muslim way, if you are a christian, pray the christian way, and if you are a traditional dusun, when you momurinait (praying), make sure you ask the Minamangun (Creator) to keep our land safe".
I'm glad I have managed to get to know the extended family once more. I remember before Hari Raya, my late grandmother came to me in a dream and told me to find the Muslim side of the family. I realize that on my grandmother's side, the dominant religion embraced by the family members is Islam. It looks like I have a bit of a research to do, and a lot of unknown family members to find...