A day of celebration, happiness, and forgiveness paired with lots of wonderful food! A little insight into one of Singapore’s more colourful holiday celebrations.
Aidilfitri (or Eid) is a day of celebration for Muslims all over the world to mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Known fondly to Singaporeans simply as Hari Raya (which literally means Celebration Day), friends and families flock to each others’ households to feast on mouthwatering delicacies and embrace this national holiday. Families are dressed to the nines in traditional matching Malay attire known as the Baju Kurung or Baju Melayu. Echoes of “Selamat Hari Raya” (Happy Celebration Day) are heard all throughout the day from people of all ages. Dining tables and kitchen stove tops are jampacked to their very edges with loads of food, snacks, and beverages such as Ayam Masak Merah (spiced chicken stewed in red gravy), Ketupat (boiled rice dumpling wrapped in coconut palm leaves), pineapple tarts and fizzy soft drinks. Radios would be playing cheery tunes all day long and an array of Hari Raya-themed programmes would be broadcasted on the television. This holiday is also seen as a good time for extended family members to catch up with each other amidst their busy and hectic work schedules.
Apart from all the celebrations and happiness, Aidilfitri is also a time for forgiveness, atonement, and remembering those who have passed on before us. Family members seek forgiveness from the elders for any past physical and/or emotional wrongdoings, be it those done by accident or those done rashly at the spur of the moment. The whole scene is usually a teary-eyed one, but everyone is usually back to smiles in no time.
For a young child, the best part of Aidilfitri would definitely be the giving away of monetary tokens by the elders – or what is known as “duit raya” or “duit collection”. As a kid, I would sit myself as close to the entrance/exit of the house as possible, so that people would have a lower chance of “missing me out” when it comes to the distribution of the “duit raya”. Yes, I know, it sounds sneaky and whatnot. By the end of the day, my pockets would be overloaded with these small paper envelopes containing money. There was once when the seams of my Baju Melayu pockets actually tore due to the massive amount of “duit raya” I received! However, with age catching up on me, it is now my turn to be on the giving end of the “duit raya” cycle. Nevertheless, it puts a smile on my face whenever I see the next generation of my family on the receiving end of something good.
Now, time for me to feast on some pineapple tarts. Selamat Hari Raya!