As June 15th is approaching, Muslims all over Singapore can heave a sigh of relief as Ramadan fasting draws to a close and the long-awaited Hari Raya festivities begin.
For most Singaporeans, the annual spectacle of lights and crowded bazaars has become an all-too-familiar sight. However, few actually know about the origins or purpose of the celebration. Hence, the team at BeScene is here to address your questions, as well as curate a list of exciting activities to look forward to this Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
What is Hari Raya Aidilfitri?
Across the globe, Muslims worldwide partake in the celebration of Hari Raya Aidilfitri, that marks the end of Ramadan – a month where adherents of the faith fast daily from sunrise to sunset – and the start of a new month on the Islamic calendar, Syawal.
This period is known to be an intimate time of forgiveness and reconciliation, where families gather together to remember the deceased and offer apologies for their misdeeds. On a more light-hearted note, it is also a joyous season of house visits, non-stop eating, gossip sessions with extended relatives and more often than not, random babysitting of their children as well!
Why is it significant in Singapore?
The celebration of Hari Raya Aidilfitri is particularly significant because of Singapore’s multiracial context, where every major religion and race is celebrated all year round. Naturally, Hari Raya festivities and customs are no exceptions.
As we pledge ourselves to be “one united people”, striving to develop a culturally open and considerate society, it is important that we not only accept but also welcome a rich diversity of races, religion and backgrounds. An inclusive attitude is what makes it possible for Singapore to celebrate such a myriad of racial festivities despite our racial or religious differences. Hence, it is crucial to be mindful and sensitive to one another, never taking the peace we share here for granted.
What Hari Raya activities will be held?
Given that majority Muslims are occupied with house visiting all month-long, most festivities actually simmer down in the post-Ramadan season. Thus, the real question becomes – what Hari Raya activities can we expect? Fret not! We have singled out some of the most highly anticipated events that you could look out for in this coming two weeks.
Istana Open House
Last year, Singapore made history when Halimah Yacob stepped up to become the first female president of the country. Since this is President Yacob’s first Hari Raya celebration as the Head of State, she has declared the Istana ground open for public visiting on 15th June (Friday).
On the first day of Raya, families can visit the Istana and sign up for the Nature Guided Walk or the tour of the Istana main building where visitors can enter the restricted compounds and observe the state gifts given by foreign dignitaries.
Besides these guided tours, a plethora of entertainment has also been arranged to include performances by St. Hilda’s Secondary School, Woodlands Secondary School, Anglo Chinese School (Independent) and even members of People’s Association (PA).
If informational tours and entertainment performances are not your cup of tea, the other highlights are sure to change your mind! Wildlife Reserves Singapore will be transporting several birds and putting them up for display, while Singtel and Cognizant will be providing balloon-sculpting and Henna painting services respectively. To top it all off, there will also be carnival games held at the Istana Open House.
Date: 15th June 2018
Time: 8.30am to 6pm
Fee: Free for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PR), $2 per person for foreign visitors
Address: Orchard Road, S238823
Malay Heritage Centre
Where better to celebrate Raya than at Istana Kampong Glam? On 23rd June, the Malay Heritage Centre will be hosting a string of festivities, lined with back-to-back performances and programmes that have been specially prepared to teach more about the occasion and its cultural significance.
Alternatively, individuals could explore the treasures of Malay Heritage Centre by opting for guided tours around its permanent galleries. It’s the perfect opportunity to learn more about Kampong Glam and its significance to the Malay community. In addition, a Storytime! “There are saga seeds in our pockets” storytelling session will also be held simultaneously to teach children about Singapore’s history and Malay culture.
Date: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays
Address: 85 Sultan Gate, Singapore 198501
Hari Raya Light Up
Following the theme of “Celebrating our kampung spirit”, this majestic light installation stretches for 2.25km and beautifully integrates cultural designs that are symbolic to Malay tradition and its rich history. Don’t miss this meaningful spectacle and take a drive down Sims Avenue, Geylang Road and/or Changi Road to view all 50 installations.
Date: 12th May – 30th June 2018
Time: Best viewed at night
Address: Geylang Serai
Who says Hari Raya activities are only meant for the Muslims? These festivities and highlights are meant for all to enjoy. So…. remember to soak up the fun and get yourself cultured in the next 2 weeks!
Selamat Hari Raya!