Eid al-Fitr, known commonly in Singapore as Hari Raya Puasa, is fast approaching this year.
Celebrated by Muslims all over the world on of the first day Syawal (the tenth month of the lunar Islamic calendar), it is a joyous occasion and most will spend the day visiting family and friends. If you’re joining the festivities and visiting your Muslim friends or colleagues this year, make sure to scroll through the gallery below to find out what to do so you can avoid making any faux pas this Hari Raya.
There’s no concept of auspicious or taboo colours, so you’ve got free play on your #OOTD’s colour scheme. Still, it’s a festive occasion, so a colour pop would be appreciated.
The more important thing to take note is that your dressing should be modest – stay away from shorts, mini skirts, cropped tops etc.
PS. As with Asian homes in general, you would need to take off your shoes before entering, but your socks can stay on.
When you arrive, make a point to look for your host (and his or her parents) and greet them with “selamat hari raya,” which loosely translates to “happy joyous day” in Malay. Another version you might come across is “Eid mubarak”, which is “blessed celebration” in Arabic.
You might have seen a Muslim take an elder’s hand and kiss it; go ahead and do that if you’re comfortable, but it’s also okay for non-Muslims to greet with a simple hand-shake. But remember this: Cross-gender contact is frowned upon, so don’t go shaking hands with someone of the opposite gender. When in doubt, just stick to greeting with a smile and a nod.
Nothing. It’s perfectly fine, really, as you are invited solely for the pleasure for your company. But if it’s so ingrained in you to never turn up empty handed, drinks and snacks (make sure it’s all halal though – so skip the alcohol-spiked ice cream tubs!) are always a safe choice.
Don’t worry about green packets either, as they’re not expected of non-Muslims. However, if you really want to join in the fun, you can give a green packet for your host’s children. The amount is totally up to you (instead of the complicated affair that ang paos are) and you can get empty ones from convenience stores or the Malay Heritage Centre.
If your host were to offer a green packet to your kids, teach them to receive it with both hands. A simple “thank you” works, but it’s good to also repeat the greeting “selamat hari raya”.
Be sure to go on an empty stomach, because hosts will do their utmost to feed you well and full. Typically on the menu are traditional Malay food like rendang, mee reebus, and briyani – and those are just the mains. Save space for dessert, because there’ll be kueh and other baked goodies to snack on too.
Make it a point to wash your hands before joining in at the table, even if your host has laid out a set of fork and spoon for you. And always use your right hand to receive or pass food as the left hand is considered unclean.
Your over-arching duty as a guest is to accept your host’s hospitality, and to return that by engaging with them and other guests. If your host’s parents are around, make an effort to chat with them too. (If language turns out to be a barrier, fall back on the classic “selamat hari raya” and a wide smile.)
This story first appeared on The Singapore Women’s Weekly, June 2017. / Updated by Melodi Ghui May 2019
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