Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza and her sisters share with HAFIDAH SAMAT their memories of Hari Raya and their plans this year.
EVERY year without fail, the sight of marquees on the lawn of multi-award-winning performer Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza’s kampung home in Kuala Lipis, Pahang and the long queues outside were the usual indications that Hari Raya celebrations were in full swing.
Her die-hard fans, from all walks of life, usually thronged her open house on the first day of Hari Raya. Some folks also didn’t mind making the trip from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Lipis to meet her.
“It was fun as people started arriving at my parents’ house as early as 8am. They would come in excursion buses and taxis,” reminisced Siti.
With each passing year, the number of guests increased, with the 2002 figure showing a staggering 25,000 guests on the first day of Hari Raya!
Siti and her family would make sure they prepared enough food.
“We used to cook and my mother Siti Salmah Bachik was constantly replenishing food from the kitchen.”
Of course, there were some heart-stopping moments, including one occasion when they ran out of food.
“My family panicked because guests were streaming in non-stop. We were running around cooking, and going back and forth to the grocery shop to buy packet drinks,” she said.
Since that incident, her family has turned to a catering service for the special day.
These days, her Raya celebrations are “quieter”, especially after she married businessman Datuk Seri Khalid Jiwa a few years ago.
“I’d normally spend the first few days of Hari Raya at my husband’s hometown. I miss the chaos of Hari Raya in Kuala Lipis,” said the singer.
Her preparation for this year’s celebration is minimal.
Her ever-growing wardrobe means she doesn’t need to shop.
Also, her husband surprised her recently with a few traditional outfits from her favourite boutique in Ampang, Selangor.
“Our preparation is focused on the children (Khalid has four children from his previous marriage.),” she said.
She added that after Raya she plans to stage a charity concert in aid of Yayasan Nurjiwa, a charitable foundation she established with her husband.
The typical husband-and-wife squabble over which kampung to visit is never an issue with her and Khalid.
This year, she will be celebrating the festival in three States.
On the first day of Hari Raya, Siti and her husband will be in Kuala Lumpur before they head for Kedah to be with her in-law’s family. Then the couple will spend the rest of Hari Raya with Siti’s family in Kuala Lipis.
For Siti, Hari Raya is all about keeping traditions alive and, maybe even making new ones to complement the old.
“My family still follows the tradition of having breakfast together on the first day of Raya. That is the most special moment for us,” she said.
Balik kampung is about bonds and keeping family ties alive.
For Siti, reunions between families are even more special during Hari Raya.
“I do get a little mushy at times during Hari Raya. I guess it’s the best time to look back at my life and the journey to where I am today,” said the soft-spoken songstress.
Her younger sister Siti Sairah shares her sentiment that the festive celebration in Kuala Lipis are treasured family moments.
“Since Kak Siti became an artiste, Hari Raya is so much fun for our family. Normally, Kak Siti would be up and about the whole day entertaining guests and well-wishers herself,” said the cherubic Sairah, smiling.
“The last few years have been rather quiet because Kak Siti would normally return to Kuala Lipis only a few days after the first day of Hari Raya.
“In the past, I’d collect the most duit raya. This year, I’ll be giving duit raya instead,” she said.
For Sairah, this year’s celebration is momentous because it marks her first Hari Raya as a recording artiste.
She recently signed a contract with Siti Nurhaliza Productions and admitted to still learning the ropes of the music industry.
“Now I understand what Kak Siti experienced as an artiste. I’m glad that she is supportive,” said Sairah, adding that Siti has imparted valuable tips to her.
“Kak Siti is fussy about image. Time and again, she’ll reminds me that as an artiste, I’ve to look good and presentable,” said the friendly Sairah.
“You see, I’m not the girlish type. I’m a jeans, T-shirt and sneakers kind of girl. But becoming an artiste has been one of the best experiences of my life. A lot of changes have taken place,” she said.
For their elder sister Siti Saida, 32, the tradition and spirit of Hari Raya seems to be lost in cities.
Just like Sairah, this former contestant of reality talent series Akademi Fantasia 6, is celebrating her first Hari Raya as a celebrity this year too.
And what does Hari Raya have in store for the busy mother of four?
She is going to her husband’s hometown in Teluk Intan, Perak, and no doubt be feasting on her favourite festive goodies such as ketupat, rendang, lontong and nasi impit.
“I anticipate more guests and fans coming to the house. To me, there’s nothing like celebrating the festive season in the kampung,” said Saida.
From Hari Raya songs and delicacies to garments, Saida agrees that Hari Raya is about the present and the past.
“Most of our siblings are married and they have their own plans for Hari Raya. I miss the time when my brothers and sisters – including Siti – were ‘tortured’ to do house chores,” she said, laughing.
EFFERVESCENT Siti Sairah, sister of Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza, almost caused a stir at the interview-cum-photoshoot, parading in a pretty burgundy kaftan.
“I love this creation because it complements my complexion and it’s my favourite colour too!” Sairah exclaimed, as sibling Siti Saida smiled at her antics.
Sairah, who is in the midst of making a duet album with Saida, took out her handphone and played a song.
(The duet album comprises eight songs – four duets and four solo tunes. The album is slated for release sometime next year.)
“Do you like it?”, she asked, smiling. “I wrote the song myself.”
The catchy, upbeat tune, titled Hero Wayang which features harmony outfit V.E. and Dali of pop/rap group AhliFikir, is enjoying regular airplay.
Before becoming an artiste, Sairah gained both experience and exposure by singing background vocals for Siti (Nurhaliza) during her shows in the past.
“I get the jitters each time I perform with Kak Siti. Don’t worry, I’ll soon learn how to ‘outdo’ her,” she said cheekily, followed by rapturous laughs from Saida and her sister-in-law-cum-manager Rozi.
Saida’s debut duet experience with Siti was during the recording of Teratak Siti, a musical which is aired over TV3 today.
“It was nerve-wracking. I remember how I refused to look at Siti and forget the lyrics!”, said Saida, who will be working closely with Siti for the upcoming duet album.
According to Siti, Siti Nurhaliza Productions (SNP) aims to create a different concept of music, which is slightly off the beaten mainstream track.
So what makes a good SNP star?
“That extra touch. That something different and something special about your voice, image and presentation,” said Siti, who will be busy recording her latest traditional album after Hari Raya.
New Straits Times