By Zaphne Philip
KUCHING, Dec 24 : Despite having reverted to Islam 10 years ago, Nur Atiqah Abdullah is grateful that her decision to do so has never prevented her from maintaining a close relationship with her Christian family members.
The 50-year-old journalist recently shared that the bond has never been stronger and the festive season such as Christmas is something she has always looked forward to.
“On that day, my siblings and their families will gather and together we would decorate the house with a Christmas tree, adorn it with colorful lights and have dinner on Christmas eve together,” said Nur Atiqah formerly known as Jacqualina David Impi.
The Iban-Kadazan mix said despite their religious differences, nothing has changed. That half of her siblings ended up in mixed-marriages also made it a lot easier too.
“For me personally, this family tradition does not make me any less of a Muslim. From a positive point of view it has helped us strengthen our relationships. Celebrating Christmas and the holidays together is a great opportunity for all to come together and share the joy,” she said.
Interestingly, Nur Atiqah will host the Christmas celebration and her house will be the venue for her siblings and relatives to gather. All the preparations have already been made including gifts for family members.
“Since everyone is gathering at my house this year, I started preparing since early this month. I have ordered roast turkey as our main dish, as well as requesting the help of other family members to bring something to the table, like a pot luck,” she said.
“Although our parents are no longer around, we are keeping this tradition alive to maintain our closeness and the bond that we have,” she said.
For Lynch Cowen, having siblings who are in mixed-marriages had given her family a chance to learn about other cultures and celebrations.
“Every Christmas, my Muslim brother and his wife would join in the celebration by visiting one another.
Our religious differences had not jeopardised the family institution. In fact, it has taught us to be more tolerant and respect one another without prejudice. We feel so blessed,” she said.
The Christmas celebration on Dec 25 is the second largest celebration in Sarawak, where about 50 per cent of the state’s 2.8 million population are Christians.
Much like other celebrations, Christmas morning is for family members to gather, no matter how far or near and regardless of religion as it provides the best opportunity to be with family.