Hari Raya Puasa, also known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri, is one of the most celebrated occasions in the Singapore Muslim community. It marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims fast for around 30 days and the start of a new month, Syawal. Ramadan is coming to an end, and Hari Raya preparations are in full swing in Singapore. If you are planning to celebrate Hari Raya with your friends and family, then here are some interesting facts that you should know about this festival.
Muslims have to pay taxes (zakat) during Ramadan
According to the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, compulsory annual taxes called zakat are to be contributed by Muslims during the month of Ramadan. It serves as the welfare contribution to poor and underprivileged individuals.
Fasting is one of Islam’s five pillars
Ramadan is the month of sacrifice when people refrain from smoking, drinking, sexual activities or any sinful behaviour. It is the time for sober repentance for Muslims when they cultivate self-discipline and help those who are in need.
Celebrations begin with grave visitations
Muslims begin Hari Raya celebrations with a trip to the mosque for prayers. It is followed with a visit to graves of departed family members for offering prayers.
Kongsi Raya is for real
From 1996 to 1998, Chinese New Year & Hari Raya fell on the same week. Dual celebrations lead to the term ‘Kongsi Raya’ or ‘Gongsi Raya.’ The two festivals fostered close relationships between Muslims and Chinese in Singapore.
Pelita (oil lamps) are lit to attract spirits
Oil lamps, also known as pelita or panjut in Singapore, are lit from the 20th day of the Ramadan to attract spirits and angels. Lighting oil lamps are also known to bring blessings and positivity to people’s home during the night of Lailatul Qadr.
Muslims wear traditional outfits on Hari Raya
As a part of the celebration, people wear traditional outfits during Hari Raya. Men wear songkok and sinjang while women wear baju kurong or kebaya.
Ketupat is traditionally served
On this auspicious festival, friends and relatives visit each other, exchange greetings, and relish delicious food. Ketupat is a type of dumpling made from rice packed inside a diamond-shaped container of woven palm leaf pouch. It is served as a dish during Hari Raya along with other traditional food items and also commonly used as a decorative object.
Children receive festive money (Duit Raya)
Children receive duit raya in cute little colourful envelopes from older members of the family after seeking forgiveness. You no longer receive this festive money once you start earning and you’re expected to give it to the younger members in the family when you become a working adult.
When visiting a Muslim home during Hari Raya, you should wear decent clothes as a sign of respect towards the family.