An interesting take on the festivals celebrated by the Muslim community in Singapore
Life in Singapore is full of colour as the festivals celebrated by the Muslims in Singapore show.
What is the significance of Hari Raya Puasa Aidilfitri?
With the festival season now in full swing for Muslims all over the world I find it appropriate that in this article I should comment on the major auspicious festivals celebrated by this community in Singapore.
For those not aware, life in Singapore is full of kaleidoscopic colour with harmony between the various cultures and ethnicities as they celebrate holidays and festivals all through the year. The Chinese, Malays and Indian communities have lived and evolved in this little island for almost two centuries as one people and as a result have learnt to appreciate and celebrate each others' cultures and practices.
Here in this and subsequent articles I wish to share with my fellownuts some idea of the vibrant mix of sights, sounds, tastes and cultures that offer a veritable wealth of enriching experiences to the reader. This page will focus on the festivals celebrated by the Muslims and in subsequent articles I will turn to the other major ethnic groups residing in Singapore.
The two major festivals celebrated by the Muslims in Singapore are Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Raya Haji.
Hari Raya Puasa Aidilfitri(19 August 2012)
This festival, also called Ramzan in South India and Eid in North India, was celebrated in Singapore this year on 19 August 2012, which is the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and a national holiday.
Over Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, most Muslims must fast and cannot eat, drink, smoke or have sex from sunrise to sunset. This is to strengthen their bodies and soul by directing them away from worldly activities. They learn to be thankful for what they have - after a day of fasting, a glass of water or a biscuit are precious things. They are also encouraged to forgive and forget past grievances, seek forgiveness for their own wrongdoings, and to help and share with others wherever possible. Free porridge distributions over Ramadan are a long-standing example of this here in Singapore. When Ramadan ends Muslims are forbidden to fast and traditionally have a small breakfast before attending special prayers in the morning. After prayers family and friends are visited and I must say it is a very colourful sight to see families dressed very gracefully and resplendently in their finest traditional attire that is adorned with beautiful designs, patterns and colour schemes.
Pilgrimage to Mecca and its sequel - Hari Raya Haji
Hari Raya Haji (26 October 2012)
As Hari Raya Puasa marks the end of fasting, so Hari Raya Haji marks the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca for Muslims. It falls on the tenth day of the twelfth and last Islamic month. It is also known as the festival of sacrifice in remembrance of the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim. He was asked to sacrifice his son to God and was prepared to do so with much anguish. On this day korban or the sacrificial slaughter of sheep, goats and cows is performed at mosques in Singapore. The meat is distributed to everybody with those in need getting priority. This is a reminder for Muslims to share what they have with those who do not have as much. Hari Raya Haji, which is a public holiday, is also a day to visit friends and relatives.