Four generations come together to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri

Mr Imis Iskandar (standing, sixth from right, in pink) with his extended family of around 50 members, spanning four generations, as they got together to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri yesterday. He said they are very close and make the effort to get
Mr Imis Iskandar (standing, sixth from right, in pink) with his extended family of around 50 members, spanning four generations, as they got together to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri yesterday. He said they are very close and make the effort to get together every weekend during Ramadan, to break fast as a family.ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

With more of his relatives starting their own families over the years, it is no simple feat getting everyone together on special occasions in entrepreneur Imis Iskandar's family.

But yesterday, around 50 members of the family - spanning four generations - turned up at the five-room flat in Tampines where Mr Imis' aunt lives. She is the fourth of eight siblings.

With their parents, uncles and aunts seated on couches and chairs, it was an emotional scene as Mr Imis, 34, and his cousins, some with infants in tow, asked for forgiveness from their elders.

"It's always difficult to get everyone together at the same time - that's a big bonus," said Mr Imis. "There's a lot of coordination work to be done the day before."

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The gathering this year was bigger than usual with his father's cousins present, he said.

"Our family is quite close. We get together not only during Hari Raya, but every weekend of the fasting month, we would break fast together," he added.

"My dad took care of his siblings, before they got married," he said, adding that his aunts and uncles also took care of him when he was a child. "(All my relatives) would come to our place, since everyone lived in the same house. After that, we just picked a house every year to meet on the first day of Hari Raya. It's an unspoken rule."

For Mr Abu Talib, 66, Mr Imis' uncle and the eldest of the eight siblings, Hari Raya Aidilfitri is a special time as it allows the younger generation to meet and get to know one another.

 
 
 
 

"This year, it's extra special," he said proudly, as his nephews hope to map out their family tree.

His wife, Madam Noraini Abdullah, 67, said that she was initially not used to the size of their family, but eventually felt welcome.

She added that as she is ethnic Chinese, her parents-in-law requested that she spend extended periods of time with the family to know what to expect during such festivities, among other aspects of daily life. She converted to Islam more than 40 years ago.

Mr Imis cannot imagine Hari Raya Aidilfitri any other way: "It's been like that since I was a child... we all just find reasons to get together."

Across the island, other families did the same, starting their house visits and spending quality time with their families.

Some, like case worker Suhaili Saad, 32, have booked transport for next weekend in preparation for the house visits.

"It has been our family tradition for years," she said. "We always rent a bus to go to each other's houses."

It is usually a 40-seater bus, she said.

"House-visiting as a family is one of the things that all of us look forward to the most every year," she said.

"Besides strengthening family ties, it is also a good time to be merry over good food - served at all our homes - and be thankful for this support system we have in our lives."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2017, with the headline 'Four generations come together to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri'. Print Edition | Subscribe