Hari Raya Haji is the second of two Muslim holy days recognised with a public holiday in Singapore, along with Hari Raya Puasa.
Hari Raya Haji is the name used in Singapore for the religious holiday which is known in other Muslim countries as Eid al-Adha. The name describes a festival of sacrifice, with “Hari Raya” directly translating as “Celebration Day.” It begins as a solemn occasion, with a focus on prayer and remembrance, before the party atmosphere takes over.
All Muslim men and many Muslim women take part in the Hari Raya prayers, which are performed either at the mosque or a large open field, and must be offered in congregation. The prayers take place after the sun has completely risen, but before noon. Participants should be clean and nicely dressed in their best clothes for the occasion. After the prayers are completed, there is a sermon from the Imam.
The prayers are followed by a more celebratory time, when Muslims embrace and exchange the greeting “Eid Mubarak,” which means they are wishing each other a “blessed festival.” Children receive gifts and the day is spent with family and friends. The invite to the celebrations is extended to non-Muslim friends and neighbours, as an opportunity to improve relations with others in the community and introduce them to Islam culture and traditions.
If the family can afford it, they sacrifice their best halal animals (such as a cow, sheep or goat) to commemorate the selfless decision that Abraham made when he sacrificed his only son and the trust he put in God’s hands. It is important that the animals used are of a certain age and quality, to ensure that the owner is making a true sacrifice. The animal is then eaten in the form of a sacrificial meal, and the food is shared with those less fortunate to ensure that even poor members of the Muslim community can take part in the tradition. Haji (sacrifice) is the fifth pillar of Islam, and an obligation for all Muslims who can afford to participate.
Hari Raya Haji occurs on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th and final month in the Islamic calendar. The date of Hari Raya Haji on the Gregorian calendar varies because the Islamic calendar is 10 to 11 days shorter. Therefore, the date of Hari Raya Haji is 10 or 11 days earlier each year. It occurs around two months later than the other Muslim religious holiday, Hari Raya Puasa. If there is a natural disaster, the Hari Raya prayers can be delayed to the 11th or 12th days of Dhu al-Hijjah.