Istana brings back fond memories for senior citizens

National 2 minutes, 53 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

NOSTALGIC memories have drawn senior citizens to visit Istana Nurul Iman and greet the royal family during Aidil Fitri year after year.

For only three days a year, the gates of the palace welcomes visitors to have the chance to personally shake hands and extend their best wishes to His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hjh Saleha.

Muhammad Abbas Abd Rahman reminisced his memories of visiting the palace every year including Istana Darul Hana during the reign of the late Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien.

“We used to row by boat to reach the palace back then when I lived in Kg Sungai Kedayan (part of Kampong Ayer),” said the 77-year-old, who now resides on land at Kg Tasek Meradun.

“Even with everything modern now, the atmosphere remains lively, cheerful and colourful. For example, now the Hari Raya music is played with CDs on huge screen televisions and back then they played live with musical instruments – it is a really unique experience.

“Alhamdulillah, this grand view of thousands and thousands of people together, soaking the atmosphere and coming to meet the royal family keep me coming back for more,” Muhd Abbas said.

An elderly couple, See Chi Soon, 71, and Sheong Chin Sew, 70, said they cannot even remember how many times they went to the palace because they visit every year.

“It feels weird if we do not visit because we’ve been doing this for so long, it’s like a yearly tradition for us, we love it,” he said.

“The improved services over the years are also great incentives to come again, as we enter, enjoy the food then finish, the palace officials help keep an eye on us then help accompany us to a special queue and bring us to meet His Majesty.”

“We parked far in Damuan but it’s no big deal, walking and sweating is a good exercise to keep you fit at this age, plus the services are much easier now,” he added.

His wife, Sheong, said she had many memories of visiting in the past.

“It was funny back then, I still remember some people bringing these large black plastics then filled it with food, and then there were times where I almost fainted (from the heat).

“It’s more organised now as there is a specific area for senior citizens … gone are the days of mixing with children rushing for queues, standing for two to three hours in the heat.”

Zubaitha Burhanudeen, 67, was especially looking forward to get a glimpse of the new addition to the royal family, Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Raabi’atul ‘Adawiyyah, wife to His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Malik.

“It’s become sort of our family tradition now, every year I come here, bring my children, it is just heartwarming to come and meet the royal family.”

“To witness people from all walks of life not just from Brunei but around the world, to celebrate and enjoy the same purpose, it’s not something you see everyday … it only happens three days in 365 days, that is why I keep coming back,” said the managing director of Abdul Jaleel Sdn Bhd.

Accompanying her mother, Sajidah Farveen Abd Jaleel, 32, said she too will continue the family tradition, hoping to bring her daughter to visit the palace next year.

The Brunei Times