Hari Raya Puasa (not to be confused with Hari Raya Haji) is coming up soon – 5 June, in fact! So, if you’ve noticed all the dazzling lights and cultural decorations around but have little or no clue about this occasion, fret not! We’ve gathered some useful information for you, from facts about Hari Raya to things to do in Singapore to join in the festivities.
What is Hari Raya?
Hari Raya Puasa, also known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri or Eid al-Fitr, but more commonly known as just Hari Raya or Raya amongst Singaporeans, is celebrated by people of the Muslim faith. It marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan – the month of dawn-to-sunset fasting – and is the time of forgiveness as families gather together to remember loved ones who have passed, and offer their apologies for any wrongdoings committed over the past year, with the younger ones in the family asking for forgiveness from their elders.
Psst… Did you know that a common misconception about Hari Raya Puasa is that it’s the Muslim New Year?
When is Hari Raya?
Hari Raya traditionally falls on the first day of Shawwal, the tenth month of the Islamic calendar. It varies each year because it’s dependent on the lunar calendar.
What happens on Hari Raya?
Muslims start their day by visiting the mosque to say special prayers. After which, they seek forgiveness from elders – for example, kids might ask for forgiveness from their parents. Before they head out to visit relatives and friends and start feasting on good food, Malay families don new clothes in a same or similar colour theme to represent family spirit, with the women dressed in baju kurung – a loose-fitting full-length dress consisting of a skirt and blouse – and the men in baju melayu – a loose-fitting shirt with long sleeves, worn with long pants with a sampin, a three-quarter length cloth made of woven materials with traditional patterns. Families also visit the graves of loved ones who have passed to pay their respects.
What are some traditions of the day?
- Decorations such as “Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri” signs, mosque cut-outs, oil lamps, lanterns, colourful string lights, ketupat dumplings, and crescent moon and star garlands are common in Muslim homes and mosques during this time of year.
- Sampul duit raya, or green packets containing money, are handed out to children and the elderly.
- There’s plenty of delicious food and snacks to dig into, like lontong sayur lodeh (mix vegetable in coconut broth), beef rendang (spicy beef stew), kuih bangkit (tapioca cookies) and kuih tart (pineapple tarts).
- Muslims greet each other on this day with sayings like “Eid Mubarak”, which means “Have a blessed holiday”, and “Selamat Hari Raya, maaf zahir dan batin”, which means “Happy Hari Raya; I seek forgiveness for any physical and emotional wrongdoings”.
Things to do
#1 Geylang Serai Bazaar
Singapore’s most-loved pasar malam (night market) is on again during Ramadan at the Geylang Serai Market. This year, it runs until 5 June, and will feature 60% traditional Malay food and 40% “hipster” choices, including kebabs and the famous Ramly Burger. A variety of festive lifestyle items will be sold as well as everyday items, from makeup and clothes to bags and home accessories. There will also be fun activities that the kids will love.
#2 Hari Raya Light Up
Visit Geylang Serai from now until the 16 June for the Hari Raya Light Up. With the theme “Celebrating the kampong spirit”, the event includes the visual phenomenon of 50 light installations inspired by cultural icons such as kampong houses, sampans and mosques. The main arch along Sims Avenue will have a mosque featuring golden domes surrounded by full blooms, illustrating a new beginning.
#3 Istana Open House
On the first day of Raya (5 June), head over to the Istana for a guided tour and hear many interesting stories about this beloved national monument.
#4 Malay Heritage Centre Open House
On the 22 and 23 June, pay a visit to the Malay Heritage Centre to learn about Singapore’s history through dramatised and interactive tours and performances, with festive fairy lights and comedic performances in the evenings. This year, the centre is teaming up with Aliwal Arts Centre so you can also expect an array of traditional activities to take part in.
#5 Communal iftar sessions and ketupathon
The organisers of the Hari Raya Light Up have also planned multiple iftar (“breaking the fast”) sessions that bring residents and other members of the community together for a meal at sunset. In addition, on 2 June, you can participate in a “ketupathon”, with the chance to weave as many palm-leaf ketupat shells as possible over 12 hours. This session will end with an auction, with all proceeds going to charity.