Hari Raya Puasa


The festival of Eid, known in Singapore as Hari Raya Aidilfitri or Hari Raya Puasa, falls on the first day of Syawal, the 10th month of the Hijrah (Islamic) calendar. It is a celebratory occasion following a month of fasting, which is known as Ramadan.1 The term hari raya is Malay for “big (or grand) day of rejoicing”.2

Date
According to the Hijrah calendar, Hari Raya Puasa falls on the first day of the 10th month.3 The Hijrah is a lunar calendar and therefore the dates on which Hari Raya Puasa falls vary from year to year.4 Hari Raya Puasa should not be mistaken for the first day of the Islamic New Year.5


The fasting month
Ramadan falls on the ninth month of the Islamic year.6 Puasa is Malay for “fasting”.7 Fasting in Islam means abstaining from eating, drinking, smoking and indulging in any form of behaviour that serves to nullify the fast. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk and perform religious duties, such as reading the Quran.8


All Muslims are required to fast, with the exception of children who have not reached puberty, the feeble elderly, the sick whose health is likely to be severely affected by fasting, expectant mothers, and women nursing their children. Women who are menstruating can take a maximum of 10 days off. However, they must make up for each day taken off, at another time.9 Travellers are also permitted to eat during the fasting period provided they make up for the lost days later on.10 Fast is broken after sunset when it is time for the evening meal, which is known as Iftar.11

The breaking of fast can be performed individually or as a group. When breaking fast communally, individuals can take turns to undertake the necessary preparations for the majlis berbuka puasa (gathering for the breaking of fast).12 In Geylang and Jalan Bussorah (behind Masjid Sultan), streets will be brightly lit with a wide variety of Malay culinary specialties on sale for the breaking of fast.13

It is desirable that, during the nights of Ramadan, Muslims perform tarawih prayers in addition to their daily prayers.14 Tarawih prayers are performed only during Ramadan and are conducted after the Isyak (night) prayers, the last of five obligatory prayers of the day for Muslims.15 While tarawih prayers may be conducted alone at home, Muslims are encouraged to join the congregation at the mosques or temporary prayer halls at the void decks of residential flats.16

During Ramadan, every Muslim is obliged to give zakat fitrah (religious tithe) to the poor. The tithes are usually paid according to amounts stipulated by the Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS). Many Muslims also choose this time to pay an obligatory yearly amount of 2.5 percent of their annual savings. Zakat is a symbol of Islamic social justice that purifies and grows one’s wealth while eradicating poverty. In Islamic law, the zakat prescribes 2.5 percent of one’s property or 1/40th of income to be distributed to the poor and needy.17 By the eve of Hari Raya Puasa, Muslims would have paid their zakat at authorised collection centres, mostly in mosques around Singapore.18

The Festival of Hari Raya Puasa or Aidilfitri

Hari Raya Puasa marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. It is a time of forgiveness within the Muslim community and a time for strengthening of bonds among relatives and friends. New clothes, decorated houses and exchange of invitations between friends and relatives commemorate Hari Raya Puasa.19

The first day after Ramadan is a busy one. On the morning of Hari Raya Puasa, to celebrate the end of the month-long fast, Muslims would visit the mosque and recite special prayers. Other practices observed include asking forgiveness from elders and visiting relatives and friends. Visitations usually begin with the parents’ home, where it is a custom among many Muslims to ask forgiveness from their parents for the wrongs they have committed in the past year. Although it is not required for Muslims to visit the cemetery during Hari Raya, many do so as a remembrance of those who have left them.20

Hari Raya Puasa is a public holiday in Singapore. On this day, Muslims have a lavish spread of food on their dining table. They would have specialties such as beef rendang (a spicy dish of beef that is like a dry curry), ketupat (rice cake wrapped in coconut leaf) and lontong (rice cake immersed in coconut gravy). Along with these would be cookies, cakes and pineapple tarts.21

In the past, homes were lit with lampu colok, a small kerosene lamp that was usually homemade. The trend now is to use decorative, flickering lights.22

Hari Raya Puasa 1996–1998
From 1996 to 1998, Hari Raya Puasa and Chinese New Year fell on the same week.23 There was a double celebration of the festivals within the Chinese and Muslim communities. The term Gongxi Raya was coined and used in Malaysia and Singapore to commemorate the two festivals. Gongxi Raya, or Kongsi Raya, became a derivative of this “shared celebration”. The occasion also brought about a shared experience of respect for ethnic diversity and tolerance of cultural differences.24 Both Muslims and the Chinese kept their homes open to visitations from friends and relatives, bringing about closer ties.25

Hari Raya Puasa 2004–2006

In 2004, Deepavali fell on 11 November, just three days before Hari Raya. In 2005, Deepavali and Hari Raya Puasa fell on 1 and 3 November respectively. The following year, Deepavali fell on 21 October and Hari Raya Puasa on 24 October. This led to the coining of the term Deepa Raya that was used in both Singapore and Malaysia.26




Authors

Mazelan Anuar & Heirwin Mohd Nasir



References
1. Festival of Eid follows fasting of Ramadan. (1995, August 28). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Haron A. Rahman. (1983, July 12). Joy and feasting after fasting. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Ramadhan in Singapore. (2016, July 1). Oman Daily Observer. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; David, T. (2016, July 11). Common threads that bind us [Microfilm no.: NL 33921]. The Straits Times, p. 18.
3. After the fasting, comes the joy of Hari Raya Puasa. (1990, April 25). The Straits Times, p. 21. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Shaik Kadir. (2005, October 31). Countdown to Deepa-Raya. The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. After the fasting, comes the joy of Hari Raya Puasa. (1990, April 25). The Straits Times, p. 21. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Zuzanita Zakaria. (1999, January 7). Fasting for the very first time. The Straits Times, p. 30; Chng, G. (1984, June 3). Ramadan: Time for kindness, peace and perseverance. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Holy month, sacred duties. (2008, September 22). The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Zuzanita Zakaria. (1999, January 7). Fasting for the very first time. The Straits Times, p. 30; Chng, G. (1984, June 3). Ramadan: Time for kindness, peace and perseverance. The Straits Times, p. 7; Holy month, sacred duties. (2008, September 22). The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Facts for Ramadan. (2005, October 12). The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Not all Muslims will fast. (1950, June 16). The Singapore Free Press, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. How to fast. (1991, April 8). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Tuminah Sapawi. (1993, March 2). A date for the family. The Straits Times, p. 12; A. Hamid Besih. (1998, December 24). Keluarga ‘besar'’ sama meriahkan. Berita Harian, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Zuraidah Ibrahim. (1994). Muslims in Singapore: A shared vision. Singapore: Times Editions for Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura, p. 35. (Call no.: RSING 305.697105957ZUR)
13. Nazrul Amri. (1988, April 25). Food bazaars flourish in the fasting month. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Festival of Eid follows fasting of Ramadan. (1995, August 28). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS). (2016). Frequently asked questions on Ramadan. Retrieved 2016, November 2 from MUIS website: http://www.muis.gov.sg/officeofthemufti/documents/FAQ%20english%20ramadan.pdf; Gateway to Malay culture. (2003). Singapore: Asiapac, p. 28. (Call no.: RSING 305.89928 GAT)
16. Festival of Eid follows fasting of Ramadan. (1995, August 28). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS). (2016). About zakat. Retrieved 2016, November 2 from MUIS website: http://www.muis.gov.sg/zakat/About-Zakat/definition.html; Nazrul Amri. (1988, May 3). Zakat – Muslim way of sharing wealth. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS). (2016). Zakat on savings. Retrieved 2016, November 2 from MUIS website: http://www.muis.gov.sg/zakat/Calculation-And-Payment/Types-of-Zakat/zakat-on-savings.html
18. Haron A. Rahman. (1986, June 9). Preparing for the big day. The Straits Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Tuminah Sapawi. (1997, February 9). Celebrating with feasting, forgiveness and solemn prayer. The Straits Times, p. 2; Celebrations in Singapore. (2009, September 24). The Straits Times, p. 58. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. A day for prayers and forgiveness. (1992, April 4). The Straits Times, p. 20; Norazah Ahmad. (1985, June 4). Keeping cemeteries clean before that Hari Raya visit. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Sapurah Arshad. (1985, June 9). Traditional meals, Western tidbits. The Straits Times, p. 16; Tuminah Sapawi. (1996, February 19). Hari Raya: Traditional practices retain their grip. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Festival of Eid follows fasting of Ramadan. (1995, August 28). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Ang, W. M. (1996, February 16). Hoping to get away this season? Here’s what’s left. The Business Times, p. 2; Lim, P. H. (1996, March 30). ‘Kongsi Raya’: Celebrating togetherness. The Business Times, p. 26; Celebrating with MPs, grassroots leaders. (1997, February 17). The Straits Times, p. 27; Pelan diatur jamin keceriaan. (1997, September 29). Berita Harian, p. 13; Gongxi Raya decorations that hit the spot. (1998, January 24). The Straits Times, p. 39; East meets East. (1998, January 21). The Straits Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. 
24. Lai, A. E. (1998, January 31). Gongxi Raya, goodwill and harmony. The Business Times, p. 9; Ministers and MPs join in gongxi raya twin celebrations. (1998, February 9). The Straits Times, p. 26; Gongxi... Gongxi... Selamat Hari Raya... (1998, January 28). Berita Harian, p. 8; A. Rahman Basrun. (1998, February 7). Semangat muhibah usah terbatas pada Gongxi Raya sahaja. Berita Harian, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Shaik Kadir. (1998, February 4). Next Gongxi Raya occurs in 2028. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Reme Ahmad. (2004, October 28). Happy Deepa Raya. The Straits Times, p. 29; Shaik Kadir. (2005, October 31). Countdown to Deepa-Raya. The Straits Times, p. 22; Sua, T. (2006, October 15). Many turn Deepa-Raya into long break. The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



Further resources
Abdul Jalal Ajmain. et al. (1960). Adat2 Melayu [Malay customs]. Singapore: Educational Book Centre, p. 81.
(Call no.: Malay RCLOS 390.09595 ABD)

Kerven, R. (1997). IId-ul-Fitr. Texas: Raintree Steck Vaughn, p. 7.
(Call no.: J 297 KER)

Twice the celebration. (1996, February 20). New Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/



The information in this article is valid as at 2009 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Philosophy, psychology and religion>>Religion>>Islam
Islamic New Year
People and communities>>Customs>>Festivities
Festivals--Singapore
Ethnic festivals
Ethnic Communities>>Festivals and Celebrations