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Jul 24, 2012

Festival of Hari Raya Puasa in Singapore

Jubiliant youths at Istana Negara on Hari Raya Puasa 1978
Festival of Hari Raya Puasa in Singapore
The festival of Eid, known in Singapore as Hari Raya Aidilfitri or Hari Raya Puasa, falls on the first day of Syawal, the 10th month of the Hijrah (Islamic) calendar. It is a celebratory occasion following a month of fasting, which is known as Ramadan. Hari Raya is Malay for "grand day of rejoicing". In Singapore, it is the most prominent of all Muslim festivals.

According to the Hijrah calendar, Hari Raya Puasa falls on the first day of the 10th month of Syawal. The Hijrah calendar is a lunar calendar and therefore the dates on which Hari Raya Puasa falls varies each year.

Hari Raya Puasa should not be mistaken for the first day of the Islamic New Year.

Hari Raya Puasa marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. It is a time of forgiveness within the Muslim community and a time for strengthening of bonds amongst relatives and friends. New clothes, decorated houses and exchange of invitations between friends and relatives commemorate Hari Raya Puasa.

The first day after Ramadan is a busy one. A visit is made to the mosque and the recitation of special prayers is a practice that Muslims observe on the morning of Hari Raya Puasa to celebrate the end of the month-long fast. Other practices include asking forgiveness from elders and visiting relatives and friends. Visitations usually begin with the parents' home as the first destination. It is a custom among many Muslims to ask forgiveness from their parents for the wrongs they have committed in the past year. Although it is not required for Muslims to visit the cemetery during Hari Raya, many do so as a remembrance of those who have left them.

On this day Muslims in Singapore have a lavish spread of food on their dining table. They would have specialties such as beef rendang (a spicy dish of beef that is like a dry curry), ketupat (rice cake wrapped in coconut leaf) and lontong (rice cake immersed in coconut gravy). Along with these would be cookies, cakes and pineapple tarts.

In the past, homes were lit with lampu colok, a small kerosene lamp that was usually homemade. The trend now is to use decorative, flickering lights.

Source: Singapore Infopedia
Authors: Mazelan Anuar & Heirwin Mohd Nasir

The Malays are usually decked out in their best traditional outfit to mark the special occasion. The men usually wear Baju Melayu (loose shirt with trousers) with kain samping ( short over-sarong of rich material ) , while the Baju Kurung (tunic top) is the quintessential Malay attire for females. Married families dress in the same colour to represent unity.

In the afternoon, everyone gathers with their families and close friends for a grand feast of thanksgiving. It is also customary to seek forgiveness from family and friends, and to renew your sense of community. The younger generations seek forgiveness and blessings from their parents, which is very essential .

When visiting, the guests and the hosts exchange salaams' and greetings of Selamat Hari Raya, which means "Wishing you a joyous day of celebration".


There are a wide variety of delicious spicy dishes and traditional delicacies to eat throughout the first three days of Eidil Fitri. The spicy dishes are ketupat (rice dumpling wrapped in coconut leaves), lontong (rice and vegetable soup ) , satay (grilled meat on a skewer), sambal sotong (chilly squid) and beef rendang (beef cooked with spices and coconut milk). Other festive delicacies include lemang (glutinous rice cooked in bamboo tubes), serunding (desiccated fried coconut with chillies ) and sambal goreng (fried meat and vegetables with chillies ).

Green Gifts

The Muslims also give duit raya ' (gifts/ packets of money) to children and old folks when they go visiting. The packets are usually green in colour and children look forward to getting these money tokens on Hari Raya Puasa.

Although the first three days are celebrated on a grand scale, many Muslims in most Asian countries celebrate Eidil Fitri throughout the whole month. One explanation they give is that Muslims fast for an entire month in Ramadan and therefore their reward is a month of celebrating Eidil Fitri too! Another reason to extend the celebration is so that non-Muslim friends and neighbours can also join in.

Hari Raya Puasa is gazetted as a public holday in Singapore.  However, not every country where Muslims are located have a public holiday to celebrate Hari Raya Puasa.

 For decades after decades, years after years, Hari Raya Puasa is celebrated according to tradition, customs and practices are kept alive for generations for everyone to understand the values and meaningful festival in multi-cultural Singapore.

In modern cosmopolitan Singapore, the lifestyles, fashions of the younger generations may have changed and modified over times.

Lets watch the "Hari Raya In The City 2010" video presented by Munah Bagharib & Hirzi Zulkiflie on YouTube to share for us to enjoy.

There are many personal blogs or those posted by organisations, community, commercial enterprises blogs about  Hari Raya Puasa festival in Singapore in the past and present.

One of them by YesterdaySG  here .

The Hari Raya Puasa blogs posted by individuals' experiences and fond nostalgic collective memories in new media. It is a myth that " "Once you've seen one, you've seen them all". 

It is for this reason that Facebook today is so popular.

Every Facebook profile is unique, no two persons are the same.

We have discovered the popularity at the Singapore Memory portal launched by the Singapore Memory Project for everyone to share our Singapore memories.

On this blog topic for our selective memories, the archived treasured photos with credit of the National Archives of Singapore which would otherwise the "memory aids" not be available to jog our memories.

Everyone with appropriate photos and stories are invited to share them at the Singapore Memory portal.

Flood during Hari Raya Puasa on 1 December, 1970

For the third year running, Muslims celebrated Hari Raya Puasa in the rain.  But the festival mood was by no means dampened. Rain or shine, brightly dressed, umbrella wielding Muslims could be seen wading through puddles (described as "ponding" as a new lingo) to visit friends and relatives. Children left their new clothing at home and splashed merrily in the water.  Gaiety prevailed in every kampong.  (Description source by NAS).

Sunny Days during Hari Raya Puasa

Crowded buses on Hari Raya Puasa in 1961
Satay at a portable stall near National Museum in 1962

Games and food at Minto Community Centre in 1960s

"Selamat Hari Raya Adilfitri" to all my Muslim friends.



Blogger Lam Chun See said...

Thanks for unearthing these photos of yesteryears. I like the last one of the 2 girls with their 'pok' chui.

July 29, 2012 at 9:42 PM  

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