The Public Holiday on Wednesday, 6 July 2016 in Singapore marks the Hari Raya Puasa holiday for the Muslim community. Hari Raya Puasa traditionally falls on the first day of Syawal, the tenth month of the Hijrah (Islamic) calendar. Because this is dependent on the lunar calendar, the date varies each year.
Hari Raya literally means ‘celebration day’ or ‘grand day of rejoicing’. It is a joyous occasion bringing the holy month of Ramadan to an end. Hari Raya Puasa is also known as the festival of Eid or as Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
During Ramadan, people of Muslim faith engage in dawn-to-sunset fasting. Hari Raya Puasa is a celebration recognising this demonstration of self-restraint, and is a symbol of purification and renewal. This is a time of forgiveness, as families gather together, remember loved ones who have passed, and offer their apologies for any grievances committed over the last year.
The traditions of Hari Raya Puasa and Ramadan are well represented in Singapore. Oil lamps are a familiar sight in Muslim homes and mosques during Ramadan, being lit from the twentieth day of Ramadan and burning until the festival’s end. Following the theme of purification and renewal, this is a time for people to thoroughly clean and decorate their homes and acquire new clothes. Often families follow a similar colour theme in their clothing, to represent unity and family spirit.
The celebration of Hari Raya Puasa begins early in the morning, with a visit to the mosque for prayers. Often families will then visit the graves of their loved ones who have passed, to pay their respects. The afternoon is a time for feasting, to break the fast of Ramadan. Families and close friends gather together for a thanksgiving feast where forgiveness and blessings are sought from one another.
Duit raya (green envelopes containing gifts of money) are often given to children and the elderly, then everyone gathers to enjoy the food! Specialties such as beef rendang, satay,, lontong are followed by desserts of kuih lapis (layer cakes), kuih kukus buah-buahan (steamed cake with fruit bits, pictured above), cookies, cakes, biscuits, sweets and pineapple tarts. Read more about the food of Hari Raya. In the evening, people return to the mosques to recite the takbir.
Selamat Hari Raya!
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