One of the great things about living in Singapore is the opportunity to experience so many different religious and cultural festivals – Hari Raya Haji is just one of them! Besides enjoying the lovely public holiday on 22 August, why not brush up on your knowledge of the festival at the same time?
1. Hari Raya Haji and Hari Raya Puasa are not the same thing.
Hari Raya Puasa marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, while Hari Raya Haji marks the end of the Hajj.
2. Hari Raya Haji marks the end of the Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.
Each year, millions of worshippers flock to Islam’s most sacred mosque, Al-Masjid Al-Ḥarām. By performing the Hajj, devotees show their commitment to God. Muslims who are physically and financially able to are required to go on the pilgrimage at least once in their lives. The Hajj involves various rituals, including circling the Ka’abah (a building in the middle of the mosque) seven times. The Ka’abah is also where Muslims face for prayer wherever they are in the world. It’s not necessarily a cheap trip – some spend thousands of dollars to make the pilgrimage.
3. Also known as Eid al-Adha – “the feast of the sacrifice” – Hari Raya Haji commemorates the great faith of the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham).
He obeyed God’s command to sacrifice his son Ismail. As Ibrahim was about to kill his son on the altar, God intervened and provided a sheep for the sacrifice instead.
4. Similar to Hari Raya Puasa, the day starts off bright and early.
Dressed in their finest traditional wear, Muslim worshippers will head to the mosque for sermons and prayers.
5. A korban (sacrifice) is performed in remembrance of Ibrahim’s faith and obedience to God.
Livestock such as sheep, lambs and goats are slaughtered. The meat is usually given to worshippers and donated to the needy. The ritual will be done at 25 mosques this year.
6. Hari Raya Haji has a more spiritual focus.
It doesn’t have the same concentration on feasting as a main part of the celebrations like Hari Raya Puasa, but you can still expect to see tables lined with traditional foods in Muslim homes. After prayers, Muslims visit family and friends.
Find out more about living in Singapore!