Mark your calendars, Malaysians! Malaysia will be observing the National Day of Mourning on Aug 22 as remains of Malaysians who perished in the MH17 tragedy are brought back home.
Setting a precedence under the circumstances, the National Day of Mourning was previously observed upon the death of royalties or national leaders.
When the nation mourns, the national flag Jalur Gemilang is flown at half-mast as a sign of respect or grief for a certain duration.
Flying national flags at half-mast is a common symbol of mourning that is observed worldwide.
Mourning, of course, varies between cultures.
Come Aug 22, there are many ways Malaysians can show their support and solidarity in observing this solemn occasion.
On this day, all entertainment events will be postponed.
It is advisable to wear mourning colours and for Muslims, a black Songkok and a black headscarf would be recommended.
The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) deputy president Sardar Jagir Singh says the best thing all Malaysians can do, irrespective of race, is to offer prayers according to their own faiths.
“This is a sad moment for all of us. We have read and heard about so many heart-wrenching stories surrounding this incident and it’s only right for us to pray for the victims’ souls to rest in peace.
“We shall pray together that the families be given the strength to bear the loss and move on,” says Jagir.
He suggested Malaysians to come together and offer prayers and observe a few minutes of silence, wherever they are, at about the same time the special ceremony to pay respect to the victims is held.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that a solemn ceremony, to pay respect to the victims, will be held at the Bunga Raya Complex, in the presence of Yang Di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah.
During the ceremony, coffins carrying the remains of each victim would be carried by ceremonial officers from the Malaysian Armed Forces into 18 hearses
The identities of the victims will only be announced during the ceremony.
The MH17 is Malaysia Airlines’s aircraft that was shot down in Donetsk Region, east Ukraine close to the Russian border on July 17 with 298 people onboard including 15 crew members who were all Malaysians.
Twenty-eight of the passengers were Malaysians with the rest mostly Dutch.