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FESTIVE GATHERING: Thousands thronged Istana Pasir Pelangi on the second day of Hari Raya Aidilfitri
JOHOR BARU: IMAGINE celebrating your birthday with royalty at the Hari Raya Aidilfitri open house hosted by Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar at Istana Pasir Pelangi, here.
Sultan Ibrahim's daughter Tunku Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, who looked dazzling in her elegant dark blue baju raya, helped P. Anisha who had just turned four to cut her birthday cake.
Anisha's father V. Pradep, 56, and her mother Phikun Amket, 40, had brought the cake to the gathering which started at 9am on Monday.
Pradep said he and his family, who included his children P. Saowalak, 19, P. Reena, eight, and P. Sashi, six, had enjoyed themselves tremendously at the gathering. One of their relatives, Mohd Khaled Abdullah, 65, works at the palace.
Thousands thronged the palace to enjoy the buffet spread and have snapshots taken with Sultan Ibrahim, his wife, Raja Zarith Sofiah Sultan Idris Shah, and other members of the royal family.
Iranians Saeed Delavri, 36, and Fatimah Murady, 29, who have been in Johor Baru for three years said this was the first time they were at the royal open house.
Saeed and Fatimah are studying at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM). Saeed is pursuing a doctorate in chemical engineering and plans to work in Malaysia upon graduation, while Fatimah is pursuing her a Masters degree in education technology.
"The food is simply delicious. There's the satay, laksa Johor, grilled whole lamb, nasi beryani and a variety of beverages to choose from. When the Sultan says he wants his people to have a feast, he really means it," said Saeed, who added that Sultan Ibrahim was very friendly.
Saeed's sentiments were shared by Lina Goh, 37, and her family.
"I am so happy I got to have a picture taken with the Sultan and the Sultan's wife Raja Zarith Sofiah. I was a bit hesitant at first, but the royal couple were so warm and friendly," said the accounts executive.
Shamsiah Johari, 42, said: "I wanted to wish the Sultan 'Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri' but was just too shy so I just kept quiet.
"I'm so happy I got my daughter to snap a photograph of the Sultan and me using her handphone," she said.
The Sultan, Raja Zarith Sofiah and Tunku Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah agreed to every request from the public for photographs to be taken with them.
Dignitaries present included Indonesian Consulate General in Johor Baru Consul-General Jonas L. Tobing, Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin and Pulai member of parliament Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed.
Sultan Ibrahim sat at the same table with Khaled Nordin and eight of their classmates from English College, now known as Maktab Sultan Abu Bakar. They were in the same class in 1975.