Do We Still Send Hari Raya Cards?

By Hazel Hassan

*This is an article written by Hazel Hassan, Vice President of Marketing & Strategic Partnership of Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd and was published in Malaysia SME Newspaper [June 25 – July 8, 2016] under 'Insight' Section.

A few generations ago, the annual Hari Raya card exchange was a precious way to stay in touch and build lasting relationships. It was also a great method to simply show to another that we remember. It was a cool thing too, to send cards I mean. Nowaydays, people seem to think that they don't need to cut down the trees to wish their friends, business partners, relatives and loved ones Happy Eid.

One upon a time, the mailmen, were kept really busy, with cards pouring into the additional special boxes put out during the festive seasons. The postal service would even hire hundreds of temporary staff just to fulfil demand. If my memory serves me well, the Post Offices were also selling their own Raya Cards too. A report in the New Straits Times states that the number of cards delivered by Post Malaysia during Ramadhan of 1990 were 12,748,766 cards; the figure went up to 18,132,826 in 1991, 19,270,059 in 1992 and 21,588,296 in 1993. That is massive! But of course, moving right along with the time and age, with Facebook, Face Time, Snap Chat, WhatsApp and what not, this tradition of sending out physical cards seem to be going out of style. 20 years ago I would never have imagined this would have happened to me but last year alone I only received 15 physical Raya Cards vs the hundreds of them all across my social media pages and WhatsApp.

Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook is one of the culprits for this phenmenon, with people seemingly content to just put up a digital version of the 'Salam Eid Maaf Zahir Batin' wishes on their pages, hoping that it will reach out to all of their friends and followers in the hope that they will forgive and remember them in the celebrations.

These new groups feel that only with the few strokes of the keyboard and keypads, they are able to bring the festivities and Raya cheer, collecting an inordinate number of 'likes' along the way. Also, I simply can't imagine how we can now relay the festive cheer with Twitter's paltry, 140 characters!

Alas, we do live in a connected world, and there is goof to have come out of the internet revolution. These popular free social networking platforms have managed to foster international relationships spanning the entire earth. Old flames are rekindled, new friendships blossom, and the world becomes just a little smaller during the festive seasons, thanks to these powerful communication channels.

As of the 1st quarter of 2016, Facebook had 1.65 billion monthly active users. In 2016, the amount of Facebook users in Malaysia was expected to reach 10.6 million but guess what? The social media users in Malaysia now number more than 18 million. Their reach is vast!

But even so, I can't help but feel that the humble festive card remains a fantastic way to catch up with family and friends. If you are still debating whether you should send Raya cards out to family and friends, know that sending cards does matter to others. If you are on the fence about this, let me share with you my reasons of sending those Raya cards out.

I do it to keep loved ones in my circle of life. I'm a busy girl with a busy life but once a year, I'd like to dedicate some time to pen down my wishes on a card with my signature on it. The years go by quickly and of course I noticed a name or two being dropped out from the list, but I sincerely feel that sending the cards bring a warm feeling to those receiving it. They are reminded of you remembering them. I believe it increases their feelings of happiness, especially with the older people. I think that is priceless.

Networking and forming business partnerships are part of the work, but building relationships are a meaningful, engaging, and worthwhile journey. The existence of WhatsApp is an example where innovation in technology is changing the way we communicate. It is something that we now can't live without. But still, in my mind, old fashioned greetings are a means to show that their relationship is significant to you and that you are thinking of them during the festivities. People like to be thought of. I feel that I am building a connection in a more personal way. You know how friendship are  – it's never the big things, but the millions of little things that connects us.

Having said all that, I look forward to opening my mailbox this Raya season, and I don't mean the one on my desktop!

[A Star Wars fan, the writer believes that she is a Jedi]