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Guide to Hari Raya Aidilfitri in Singapore

To mark the end of the fasting month, Muslims in Singapore gear up for the ultimate celebration – Hari Raya Aidilfitri

Cam Khalid
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Cam Khalid
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Congratulations – you’ve made it to the end of Ramadan, which takes place from April 12 to May 12 this year. This Islamic holy month sees Muslims around the world (except the sick, elderly, pregnant or menstruating) abstain from eating and drinking from dawn until dusk. These are all done while practising charitable deeds and acts of compassion as fasting doubles as a reminder of the sufferings faced by the less fortunate. 

To mark the end of the fasting month, Muslims celebrate with the festival of Eid al-Fitr, also known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri or Hari Raya Puasa in Singapore, on May 13. Besides a massive feast (home-cooked or delivered), the religious holiday is a time for forgiveness and making amends.

With Singapore going back into Phase 2, this year's Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration will be slightly different, minus big family gatherings. But that doesn't mean it has to be less merry. Here are some of the ways you can alter your plans while following the new Covid-19 restrictions. Remember to practise safe distancing when you're out and about.

RECOMMENDED: Halal restaurants and cafés with delivery options in Singapore and local Muslim-friendly brands in Singapore

How to celebrate with the new Covid-19 restrictions

Limit visitations
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Limit visitations

From now until May 30, Singapore moves back into Phase 2, with more restrictions activated to curb the recent outbreak of community Covid-19 cases. Hate to break it to you, but that means social gatherings are reduced from eight people to five, with no more than two social gatherings a day. When it comes to visitations, each household is allowed to only receive five distinct visitors a day. 

If you’re visiting your grandparents, be mindful and keep visits short, so that your aunties, uncles and cousins can pop in next. Alternatively, you can set up a big video call in lieu of physical visits.

Shop online if you can
Photograph: NTUC Fairprice

Shop online if you can

With the new restrictions, malls and large stores are operating at reduced capacity, with some having odd and even day entry restrictions to limit crowding. That means Hari Raya shopping will be slightly more difficult. But thanks to a myriad of online shops and delivery services, you can purchase new clothes, sweet treats and groceries from the comfort of your digs. Check out our edit of local Muslim-friendly brands, as well as online grocery stores to get started.

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Check out an online bazaar
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Check out an online bazaar

Due to the current restrictions on big physical events, the mother of Ramadan bazaars in Geylang Serai goes digital like it did last year, saving you the effort of working through the crowds – and heat. Powered by Wisma Geylang Serai and the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the annual bazaar is available online via Bazaar-Kita.sg. It features over 100 retail merchants offering various festive goodies, meals and merchandise at your fingertips, with same-day delivery available too.

Traditions

Greetings
Photograph: Wisma Geylang Serai

Greetings

In Malay

Contrary to popular belief, Eid al-Fitr is not the start of a Muslim new year. It falls on the tenth month of the Islamic calendar. Instead of wishing a happy new year, greet your fellow Malay-Muslim friend with “Selamat Hari Raya” which translates to “have a happy celebration.” Follow this greeting with “maaf zahir dan batin” which loosely means “forgive me for all my wrongdoings” as it’s also an auspicious day to seek forgiveness.

In Arabic

Alternatively, you can greet in Arabic. Don’t get lost in translation – a simple “Eid Mubarak” will do. It’s a common term used by both Arab Christians and Arab Muslims as a way to say “happy holiday.” Muslims all over the world also use it for Eid al-Adha besides Eid al-Fitr. A close translation of the greeting would be 'celebration' (Eid) and 'blessings' (Mubarak).

Visit the mosque
Photograph: Siti Rahmanah Mat Daud/Unsplash

Visit the mosque

With the new restrictions, mosques islandwide are open with limited religious services and at reduced capacity, so Eid prayers are encouraged to be performed at home. Prior to the new norm, the day starts with an early morning prayer at the mosque. Mosques all over the city are filled with worshippers from various walks of life. Some even spill out into the streets, and with everyone praying in one direction in synchrony, it’s really an awe-inspiring sight to see.

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Seek forgiveness
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Seek forgiveness

While houses are less kecoh ('noisy' in Malay) this year, families and friends can still catch up via video calling platforms such as Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, and more. However, this includes the process of getting your parents and grandparents to adjust their cameras before asking them forgiveness. This emotional affair usually sees the younger person giving salam (a type of handshake where one kisses the back of the hand) while asking the elder for forgiveness for all his or her wrongdoings. You can also do so with other relatives and friends – sans kissing the back of the hand.

Matching outfits
Photograph: Adrianna Yariqa

Matching outfits

It's less likely you'll see pockets of families rocking the traditional Malay outfits in the same colour this Hari Raya, but that doesn't families can't style out the tradition in the living room. It’s a cultural tradition observed by families to symbolise unity. Plus, it doesn't hurt to get all dressed up in matching outfits for that annual family photo, or for that Zoom gathering. From minimalist to frou-frou, outfits range from traditional silk baju kurung to modern lace kebaya. These are usually paired with a songket, a luxe fabric made from silk or cotton. Otherwise, hand-dyed batik is preferred. Check out the local Muslim-friendly brands we've bookmarked for our Hari Raya threads.

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Home decorations
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Home decorations

What comes after a major spring cleaning? Decorating meticulously. Humble abodes are elevated with bright green home accessories, as well as crescent moons and star motifs as these elements are highly associated with Islam. Some homes keep things extra lit with colourful fairy lights hung by the windows and balconies. Can you feel the festivities in the air?

Green packets

Green packets

Here’s the best bit: getting ‘em moolah. Similar to the Chinese hong baos (red packets), green packets filled with cash are given to tots, tykes and teens by working adults. But if your looks take a couple of years off your age, then consider yourself lucky. Alternatively, work that charm if you’re really determined to score some green packets (it works, sometimes). Practise minimal contact this time by sending (or receiving) your Hari Raya dollars via a bank transfer.

Food

Hearty meals
Photograph: Shutterstock

Hearty meals

Without a doubt, the star of the show is the ketupat, a diamond-shaped rice dumpling wrapped in a woven coconut leaf. It’s also the main symbol of many Hari Raya decorations in Singapore. A work of art, the ketupat is peeled open once it's cooked and is best served with the spicy beef rendang or the satay peanut sauce. You can also have it soaked in the rich sayur lodeh (vegetables in coconut milk) and topped with serunding (spicy fried coconut flakes) and sambal goreng pengantin (a spicy meat stir fry) for the extra kick. If you're not planning to cook, order from these halal restaurants instead.

Sweet treats
Photograph: Shutterstock

Sweet treats

Got a sweet tooth? Then you won’t be able to resist the dessert spread. Indulge in traditional kuehs such as the ondeh-ondeh, a chewy green ball with liquid palm sugar in the middle that explodes in your mouth upon every bite. Others include the peanut-flavoured kueh makmur, the layered kueh lapis, and the all-time favourite: pineapple tarts. If you see something new on the table, be adventurous and take a bite. It might be the next moreish treat you can’t get enough of. While you're kueh buying, be sure to support local home-bakers and their sweet treats.

Get Hari Raya ready

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