When actress-host Hanis Zalikha celebrated her first Hari Raya with her then-boyfriend Hairul Azreen, it was during a work occasion. Hanis was co-hosting a show on the first day of Hari Raya with Datuk Aznil Nawawi.

“I remember that night in 2014 very clearly. I had to do a ‘Malam Raya’ gig with Pak Nil and Hairul was on the show as a guest artiste. It was a proud moment for us because we got to do a show with a legendary person like Pak Nil.

“The whole show was meriah (festive),” she said at an interview in Kuala Lumpur.

A year later, they got married. As both of them are from Selangor, celebrating Hari Raya with their respective families is easy.

“We are very lucky because our family houses are not that far apart, with one in Shah Alam and another in Serdang. I can’t imagine being married to someone whose kampung is far away, and he feels the same way,” Hanis said.

For Hanis, Hari Raya becomes a more meaningful celebration when there is tolerance and acceptance.

She said as husband and wife, they needed to establish an understanding on to how to divide time between two families.

hanis zalikha

Hanis Zalikha with husband Hairul Azreen and son Yusof. Photo: The Star/Kamarul Ariffin

“We want Raya to be joyous. I understand that he wants to spend time with his side of the family and I want to do the same with mine as well. So, we take turns.”

The one thing that Hanis looks forward to during Hari Raya is the moment when everybody asks for forgiveness from one another.

“Generally, we feel a bit shy about asking for forgiveness. So, some people look forward during Hari Raya to do so. People use this time as an opportunity to open up emotionally and pour their feelings.”

She said what matters is for people to let go of the past: “It’s a turning point to start something new and better. A new beginning.”

Hanis and Hairul now have one-year-old son Yusof Iskandar. She wants her son to be around their families as much as possible during Hari Raya.

“Growing up, my family tradition was to go back and visit relatives in our hometown. I want Yusof to know that our respective family houses are his kampung.”

She also hopes that when Yusof gets older, he’ll make it a point to be with his family during the festive season.

Hanis, who often shares tips on preparing baby food via social media, said Yusof loves nasi himpit.

“I’m going to make him special baby-friendly nasi himpit. My husband loves lemang. I have a simple family. They don’t even like lauk, so I can have that all to myself!” she said with a laugh.