Hari Raya Puasa (not to be confused with Hari Raya Haji) is coming up soon – 15 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
Singapore’s most-loved pasar malam (night market) is set up during the Ramadan season, a month before Hari Raya Puasa, at Geylang Serai; this year, it’s on until 13 June. There’s a myriad of stalls offering an array of dishes and snacks such as Ramly Burgers, kebabs, vadai (fried snacks) and traditional Malay goodies, along with traditional Malay clothes and decorative items. A yummy must-try food here is gorpis – banana fritters served with grated cheese, condensed milk and a choice of flavoured sauce – chocolate, Nutella or strawberry.
#2 Celebrating Hari Raya: Stories from the Community
This exhibition at the Singapore Flyer, from now until 18 June, highlights the key features of the Hari Raya festival and personal stories from the community – perfect for those who want to know more about the occasion and hear first-hand stories about it.
Head over to Geylang Serai from now until 30 June to admire this year’s Hari Raya Light Up, themed “Celebrating our kampung spirit”. Expect more than 50 dazzling light installations inspired by Malay art and cultural icons such as a kampung house, sampan and mosque. There’ll be a series of performances, too, such as tarian (Malay dance).
On the first day of Raya (15 June), visit the Istana and go on a guided tour to hear interesting stories about this well-loved National Monument that has witnessed Singapore’s colonial past, tumultuous years and independence in 1965.
Celebrate Raya and soak in the festivities, with performances and programmes designed to teach more about the occasion, at Malay Heritage Centre’s annual open house on 23 June.
Drop by this mini carnival taking place on 23 June at Malay Heritage Centre to dance and sing along to songs by Didi & Friends. Even if you’re not familiar with them, bring the kids along and soak in the Raya atmosphere!
#7 Guided Tours of Malay Heritage Centre
What better way to celebrate Hari Raya than on a free guided tour of the Malay Heritage Centre’s permanent galleries? You’ll learn more about Kampong Glam as well as its significance to the Malay community from the museum’s docents. These tours happen Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 2pm.
Selamat Hari Raya!