Selamat Hari Raya Puasa!
It’s almost time for the Festival of Breaking the Fast, which falls on 24 May this year. But, it’s not to be confused for Hari Raya Haji, which follows on 31 July – they’re different days of celebration for the Muslim community in Singapore and around the world. Very different!
“Hari Raya” directly translates to “Great Day” in English. “Haji” means “pilgrim to Mecca”, while “Puasa” means “fasting”.
Hari Raya Puasa is celebrated at the end of the Ramadan fasting month to celebrate, well, the end of the fasting month. Hari Raya Haji is celebrated at the end of the Hajj (pilgrimage) 70 days after the Ramadan – every able-bodied and financially able Muslim is obliged to make the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia at least once in their life.
This year, Saudi Arabia has told pilgrims to postpone plans until after there is more clarity about the coronavirus pandemic.
Both days begin with a morning of sermon and prayer at the mosque, which won’t be possible this year through Singapore’s circuit breaker at least.
On Hari Raya Puasa, Muslims then proceed to visit relatives and friends for a day of feasting; on Hari Raya Haji, a “Korban” (sacrifice) is performed, where live sheep, lambs and other livestock are slaughtered as prayers are recited. This is to commemorate the Islamic prophet Ibrahim, who sacrificed his son Ismail as an act of obedience to their God.
Hari Raya Puasa celebrations last up to 30 days, whereas Hari Raya Haji celebrations last up to four days.
In Singapore, as far as public celebrations, carnivals and the like go, Hari Raya Puasa is celebrated on a bigger scale than Hari Raya Haji. Think the Geylang Serai bazaar, Hari Raya light-ups and more! Sadly, the popular market has been cancelled this year. But, it’s a don’t-miss culture event – so go check it out in future years, if you haven’t already.
By Pinky Chng, August 2017 / Updated by Sara Lyle Bow, May 2020
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