Hari Raya Puasa is one of two Islamic holy days marked with a public holiday in Singapore, along with Hari Raya Haji.
Hari Raya Puasa, also known to Singaporean Muslims as Hari Raya Aidilfitri, is the day when Muslims break fast at the end of Ramadan. This means they are once again allowed to eat and drink during the day, and this is celebrated with a huge feast. The celebration takes place not only in Singapore, but throughout the Muslim world.
Hari Raya Puasa occurs on the first day of Shawwal, the tenth month in the Islamic calendar. This means that the date of Hari Raya Puasa on the Gregorian calendar changes from year to year. As the Islamic calendar is 10 to 11 days shorter, Hari Raya Puasa falls 10 or 11 days earlier each year on the Gregorian calendar. In Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia, the name of the holy day differs from other countries, where it is more commonly known as Eid al-Fitr. The words Hari Raya mean “Celebration Day” and Puasa means “fasting.”
Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri in Singapore
The feast is not the only tradition that takes place on Hari Raya Puasa. Even more important is performing the Aidilfitri Salat, an Islamic prayer. It has two parts, known as Rakats, and is unlike other Salats for various reasons. It can only be performed in congregation, and therefore Muslims usually meet in an open field or a large hall. It has six extra Takbirs, which is where the congregation raise their hands to their ears and say “Allāhu Akbar” (meaning “God is greatest”). Both men and women take part in the prayer, but they must pray in separate locations or rooms.
Before the Aidilfitri Salat, Muslims must pay a religious tax called the Zakat. This money, calculated based on how much the individual earns or has in savings, is paid to collectors who then distribute it to the Muslim poor, new converts to Islam, the Islamic clergy, and other suitable causes.
Many Muslims in Singapore are of Malaysian descent, so the celebrations of Hari Raya Puasa are similar in the two countries. It is a day of homecoming, when people working in the city will typically return home to visit their families and ask for forgiveness from their elders. Hari Raya Puasa is a joyful day of celebration for Muslims, when kindness, sharing and forgiveness is valued.
The traditional greeting on the day is “Salam Aidilfitri” or “Selamat Hari Raya,” similar to “Happy Christmas” or “Happy New Year” in other religions. Muslims both male and female wear a special outfit called the “baju kurung,” a traditional Malaysian costume which consists of a long shirt worn over a skirt or trousers of matching fabrics. It is usually colourful and often patterned.
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