Their Majesties welcome VVIPs on first day of Raya
Danial Norjidi

Marking the first day of Hari Raya Aidilfitri in the country this year, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha hosted a lavish Hari Raya gathering for VVIP guests at Istana Nurul Iman.

His Majesty arrived at the event 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, His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul Malik, His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul Mateen and His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul Wakeel.

The monarch walked into the Reception Hall with a smile, donned in an eye-catching bright yellow Baju Melayu (traditional Malay clothing) along with the royal entourage, greeting each of the male guests personally.

The Reception Hall was filled with a glow emanating not only from the beautiful décor, but the people themselves, whose smiles lit up the hall as the festivities took place and the Hari Raya celebrations began.

Among the guests were state dignitaries, Cabinet Ministers, foreign diplomats and senior government officials who lined up, all eager for the opportunity to convey their Hari Raya greetings to the benevolent monarch and other members of the royal family.

Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha, along with Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah, Her Royal Highness Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Zariah, YAM Pengiran Bini Hajah Faizah, His Majesty's daughters and other members of the royal family were at the reception.

The Hari Raya reception saw the guests, dressed in formal attire and traditional attire of their respective countries, sharing light conversations and mingling with members of the royal family, to whom they conveyed festive wishes and greetings before going on to indulge in a wondrous array of food that lined the tables on the sides of the hall.

Prepared by the palace's chefs, who stood at various stations along the flanks of the hall, a lavish menu was enjoyed by the guests in attendance, featuring sumptuous, exquisite food, ranging from lobster, oysters, sushi and even Hawaiian delicacies to local dishes, as well as a number of different desserts, all of which were on offer to please the royal family's special Hari Raya guests.

The Hari Raya gathering at the palace takes place annually, and is an event which is highly anticipated each year, not only by VIPs here in Brunei but by members of the public too, as Istana Nurul Iman opens its doors to all people in the country.

Yesterday marked the first day the palace opened its doors to the public during this year's Hari Raya celebrations. Each year sees thousands upon thousands of Brunei citizens and residents as well as foreign visitors coming to the palace for a chance to shake hands with and personally convey their Hari Raya greetings to the royal family. - Borneo Bulletin (22 August 2012)