24,300 meet & greet Royal family
By Siti Hajar, Syafiq Affendy & Lyna Mohd

As the nation celebrates the third day of Hari Raya Aidilfitri, many visitors were seen thronging the grandeur of the Istana Nurul Iman in the capital as they took the once-a-year opportunity to meet and greet Brunei's esteemed Royal family.

In continuance of the Istana Hari Raya Open House that is opened to virtually anyone, regardless of citizenship, a total of 24,300 individuals from all walks of life, races, religions and age groups queued patiently in the vast space of the Royal palace, with 15,081 visitors recorded in the morning and 9,219 visitors in the afternoon.

On the second day of the anticipated annual event, the male section of the visits was graced by the presence of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, who was accompanied by His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, His Royal Highness Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah, His Royal Highness Prince Haji Jefri Bolkiah, HRH Prince 'Abdul 'Azim, HRH Prince 'Abdul Malik, HRH Prince 'Abdul Mateen, HRH Prince 'Abdul Wakeel and other members of the Royal family.

The female section, meanwhile, was graced by the presence of Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha, accompanied by Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah, Her Royal Highness Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Hjh Zariah, Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Bini Hajah Faizah, HRH Princess Hajah Rashidah Sa'adatul Bolkiah, HRH Princess Hajah Muta-Wakkilah Hayatul Bolkiah, HRH Princess Hajah Majeedah Nuurul Bolkiah, HRH Princess Hajah Hafizah Sururul Bolkiah, HRH Princess Fadzilah Lubabul Bolkiah, HRH Princess Hajah Masnah and other members of the Royal family.

The greeting hall was a flurry of mixed colours and jewellery, especially among the women, as they proudly donned their tailored outfits for the special occasion and the young children were also dressed in their miniature baju kurong's and cara melayu's, as they walked hand in hand with their smiling parents.

Those from the non-Malay and non-Muslim communities - some of whom went out of their way and spent on the traditional wear for Hari Raya - were dressed appropriately as customary to the palace's strict modesty protocols.

A calm excitement befell the Baitur Rahmah Hall as loyal subjects entered the spacious cavity of the hall while they made their way to the extended hands that awaited their greetings.

Members of the Royal family were seen smiling widely as the men, women and children made their way around the carpeted, well-lit and elegant interiors and the faces of those who were bequeathed snippets of conversation bestowed by members of the Royal family were evidently much brighter as they made their silent exits from the hall.

As per the yearly tradition, the Istana Nurul Iman will open its doors for the third and final time today for this year's Hari Raya Aidilfitri with the festivities beginning at 9am in the morning and 2pm in the afternoon. - Borneo Bulletin (3rd September 2011)