Monday, July 14, 2014

Puasa Month

Eid al-Fitr is known as the “Festival of Fast-Breaking”.  In Singapore we call it Hari Raya Aidilfitri or Hari Raya Puasa.  Muslims have to observe a month of fasting, which is known as Ramadan and when it ends, Hari Raya Puasa celebration will begin.  In Malay, the words “Hari Raya” is called the “grand day of rejoicing” which falls on the first day of Syawal, the 10th month of the Islamic calendar.   

During Ramadan, Muslims have to abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and indulging in any form of behaviour that serves to nullify the fast from dawn to dusk.  They are also required to perform religious duties such as reading the Quran.    

Days before Hari Raya Puasa, there will be a “Hari Raya Light Up & Celebration” along the stretch of road at Geylang Seria which showcases our proud Malay culture and other inter cultural events.  It is usually run for a month until the last day of Ramadan.  The light up is unique to Singapore’s culture which brings people from all walks of life, where everyone gets to interact and mingle in the spirit of Ramadan and Hari Raya celebrations. The place at Geylang Seria will be brightly lighted up and decorated with multi-coloured ornaments.  Street-side bazaars selling local food, clothes, batiks and other wares are also set up which attract not just the Muslim shoppers, the other races too.  Hard bargains can be heard in familiar local lingo, “lelong, lelong” over loud hailers by some enterprising stallholders.  Curious tourists who have read about our annual light up event can be seen making a trip to soak in the atmosphere.                

Hari Raya Puasa marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and it is a time of forgiveness for the Muslims.  The first day after Ramadan is usually a trip made to the mosque in the morning to recite special prayer and seeking forgiveness from the elders.  It follows later with home visits with the parents’ homes being the first stop.  Like the Chinese in preparation for the Lunar New Year, many homes are given a fresh coat of paint and new furniture is added.  In anticipation of visiting guests, plenty of savoury local delicacies are prepared for them too.       

Hari Raya Puasa is one of the most important holiday celebrations in multi-racial Singapore where many non-Muslims can be seen visiting the homes of their Muslim friends.       

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