Merry Raya!

July 15, 2015


Many people ask me, especially in the past few days, “What is Hari Raya in English?” – well there’s a simple answer to that. Hari Raya just means “Big Day” in English (if you want to be literal about it). See, we use “Raya” quite commonly and almost all of it are used to show that something is big or great. Like jalan raya, bandar raya, and pilihan raya. If you check out Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka’s website, they even use the example of “Badak raya” which just means “sejenis badak yang besar”.

Aside from being a synonym for big, it is also a synonym for public or general.

Balai raya = community hall

Kerja raya = public works

Pendakwa raya = public prosecutor

All these words have a ‘public’ element to it. It’s for the benefit of many.

So, do I just say “Happy Big Day” if I want to wish “Selamat Hari Raya”" in English?

Celebrations are cultural and so are its greeting. We are very comfortable with “Selamat Hari Raya” even if everything else in the conversation is in English. I think we should just continue saying it that way. But what about in English speaking countries, what do they say?

The common one would be the borrowed greeting “Eid Mubarak” or “Blessed Eid”, “Eid” being the celebration itself.

Of course, it’s never wrong to greet someone with the beautiful intention to wish them happiness and well-being. “Happy Eid” is very close to our “Salam Aidilfitri” so you can use that, too!

But personally I like to be more creative with my Raya greetings. I tend to keep the word Raya but be more creative with my adjectives so I say things like “Have a blessed Raya!” or “May your Raya be filled with joy and celebrations” – you should have one of your own (and you can do one better by tailoring your greetings to the people you are saying it to).

How about “Merry Raya”, then? We hear “Merry Christmas” a lot but can that be used in other celebration greetings as well? By definition, “Merry” just means cheerful, happy, or joyful. When you say it in a greeting like Merry Christmas, you are essentially saying “Have a Happy Christmas!”. It’s not entirely foreign too, “Merry Christmas”  is really just “Selamat Hari Natal”.

But like I said, celebrations and its greetings are cultural. That means we already associate “Merry” with Christmas and would like to leave it as that, that’s cool. I understand. But just remember there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just a matter of preference! :)

At the end of the day,I think we all can embed our well wishes and good intention in our words and I would like to wish all of you..

A Merry Raya!

Where my duit Raya at?? :D