Muslims around the world are currently observing a time of fasting and abstinence to mark the holy month of Ramadan, which will be followed by Hari Raya Puasa or Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations on 15 June this year.
Observing Ramadan and celebrating Hari Raya Aidilfitri overseas might be a unique experience, but for those far away from home during this season, it may also make them miss Singapore the most – here are some of these aspects.
1: Fasting based on regular daylight hours
As sunrise and sunset timings differ according to countries’ geographical positions across the two hemispheres, some countries would experience longer or shorter fasting hours. This year’s ranges from 10 to 21 hours – for example, Muslims in Chile fast for 10 hours, while those in Greenland would have to fast for 21 hours!
In Singapore, being located close to the equator means we experience shorter or more regular hours, compared to other countries. Muslims in Singapore need only fast for an average of 13 hours, compared to some of our European counterparts!
2: Relishing the moments of iftar with family and friends
Aside from the morning sahur (or pre-dawn meal), the time of iftar (or breaking of the fast) is one of the most significant daily moments during Ramadan. This is when family and friends come together for their second meal of the day after the adhan (or Muslim call to worship) for evening prayers. The simple act of sitting and having a meal together with loved ones is truly a precious moment to be savoured. This could be made even more special with unique iftar offerings like rendang burgers or rendang sushi!
Ramadan is also a season of giving, and that’s exactly what some local organisations like Free Food For All does, for the needy to also partake in iftar. Aside from organising soup kitchens and home deliveries within certain neighbourhoods in Singapore, they have also gone the extra mile to support Rohingya refugees in Malaysia and Bangladesh.
3: The festive vibes of Geylang Serai
A trip to Geylang Serai certainly adds to the festive spirit, with its colourful and decorative light displays and bazaar stalls galore! This year, aside from jostling with the horde of hungry visitors checking out the various food stalls – from traditional delicacies to Instagrammable hipster fare (mentaiko beef cubes and rainbow cheese toasties, anybody?), there’s also an ASEAN-themed street fair at the new Wisma Geylang Serai, in celebration of Singapore’s ASEAN chairmanship.
Outside of the Geylang Serai district, the festive vibes of Hari Raya are brought one step closer to those living in the heartlands, through various bazaars around the island. Such opportunities are a great way for Singaporeans of all races to experience the festivities with their Muslim friends – a display of our nation’s racial diversity.
4: Enjoying festive Raya treats
From kuih lapis (layer cake) and kuih putri salat (glutinous rice topped with coconut custard), to dodol (toffee-like confectionery) and the many variations of kuih raya (Hari Raya cookies and cakes) – there are many delicacies to be savoured during the upcoming Hari Raya celebrations! While it may not be as easy to find some of these traditional favourites outside of Asia, there’s nothing like taking to the kitchen this festive season to whip up some homebaked goodies.
If you’re missing the delectable treats that are often available during Hari Raya Aidilfitri, why not try out this recipe for the traditional kuih bahulu (soft egg cake) with a modern twist? Besides cream cheese, you can also make it more unique by experimenting with different flavours. This would also make a nice treat for your fellow overseas Singaporean family or friends!
Wherever you may be, keep the festive spirit alive by connecting with those around you – bask in the spirit of Hari Raya Aidilfitri and connect with your peers! If you visit a Muslim friend during this season, be sure to pay attention to some of the practices they may follow!
From all of us at OSU, here’s wishing our Muslim friends Ramadan Kareem, and Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri!