Find out what Hari Raya Haji is all about and where to have fun on the upcoming public holiday!
Selamat Hari Raya Haji! The public holiday is almost here (it falls on Thursday, 29 June this year) and with it comes an extra day of fun to have around Singapore with the kiddos. Hurrah! We’ve been taking a look at what this Islamic festival means, where we can join in the celebrations (regardless of our own religion), and what’s on for families.
All about Hari Raya Haji in Singapore
What is Hari Raya Haji?
The day falls on the 10th day of Zulhijjah, the 12th month of the Islamic calendar. It marks the end of the Hajj, a holy pilgrimage every Muslim is encouraged to make at least once in their lives (pictured up top). During the pilgrimage, Muslims have to perform several rituals and actions in Mecca, the holiest city in Islam. It is Saudi Arabia’s third most populated city, after Riyadh and Jeddah.
The significance behind Hari Raya Haji
Hari Raya Haji (which means “great day of the haj” in Malay), also known as Eid al-Adha, is an important festival where Muslims reflect on the story of God commanding Ibrahim to sacrifice his son, Ismail. Thankfully, no small children came to harm as God intervened by allowing Ibrahim to sacrifice a sheep instead.
Marking the Hari Raya Haji date on the calendar
Wonder why Hari Raya Haji is not celebrated on a fixed date every year? That’s because, like all Muslim festivals, the date of Hari Raya Haji is chosen based on astronomical calculations that rely on the sighting of the new moon. In Singapore, the date of the festival is determined by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore.
Fasting and Prayers during Hari Raya Haji
Unlike Ramadan, where Muslims are required to fast from sunrise to sunset, fasting for Hari Raya Haji is optional. The fasting ritual is usually done on the eve of Hari Raya Haji and is called Wukuf. On the day of the festival, Muslims gather in mosques for congregational prayers, followed by the korban ritual.
Korban, the Hari Raya Haji sacrificial ritual
Korban, is an important part of the festival and represents Prophet Ibrahim’s faith and trust in God. Typically, mosques around Singapore take part in the ritual where sheep or goats will be sacrificed during Korban. The animal is then cleaned and the meat is carved up and distributed. Just so you know, the animals are definitely not being tortured! In fact, their comfort and welfare are of utmost importance during the whole process. Islam’s slaughtering method ensures a quick and humane death to the animal.
This year, 52 mosques in Singapore will be offering overseas Korban for Muslims. The sheep are sacrificed, chilled and dispatched from places like Australia for the upcoming celebrations in Singapore. Looking to book your Korban? Click here.
Lessons to learn from Hari Raya Haji
Sacrifice is a big theme in most Muslim celebrations and Hari Raya Haji highlights the importance of faith in God. It’s also a reminder that there are those around us that might need our help. This makes the act of donating and distributing the sacrificed meat to those who need it more than us an honourable one. As Hari Raya Aidiladha is more about spiritual needs than physical ones, the huge feasts and merrymaking of Hari Raya Aidilfitri are not usually repeated. The food tables will still be laden, though! Traditional foods such as ketupat, rendang, satay, and lontong are part of the delicious menu during this celebration. Mmm!
What to do during Hari Raya Haji in Singapore
1. Visit Singapore’s most famous Mosque
To really get a feel for the religion and culture, Sultan Mosque – also known as Masjid Sultan – in historic Kampong Glam makes a great place to visit with the kids. Built in 1824 for Sultan Hussein Shah, the first sultan of Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles originally gave $3,000 for the construction of a single-storey building with a double-tiered roof. Today, the mosque is a focal point for the Muslim community. For the full lowdown on this beautiful building, try a guided tour! Tours come in English, Malay, Chinese, or Japanese.
Night markets often spring up in the area, complete with food stalls whenever there’s an important festival happening. Oh, and don’t forget to check out the local ‘hood, too: Haji Lane and Arab Street make a great hang-out with kids.
Sultan Mosque, 3 Muscat Street, Singapore 198833
2. Spend the day at the museums
Take the time out to head to a museum! We find that a public holiday is the best time to visit, and there are tons of kid-friendly museums in town to go to during Hari Raya Haji. Our favourites to visit with the kids? National Gallery Singapore and the Children’s Museum Singapore have awesome exhibits for kids. We also had a great time exploring the Singapore Art Museum at Tanjong Pagar Distripark and the Peranakan Museum.
3. Visit a goat farm
Since Korban will not be taking place in Singapore again this year, the closest that you can get to see cows and goats this Hari Raya Haji are at the farms in Lim Chu Kang. Don’t worry, you won’t be witnessing any slaughtering over here! Just some a-meh-zing creatures that you can pat, take photos with, and then buy some milk from after your trip.
Hay Dairies, 3 Lim Chu Kang Lane 4, Singapore 718859
4. Stay home and enjoy special programmes on the telly
If you’re not planning to go out, that’s fine. Singapore’s free-to-air Malay language channel Suria has prepared a line-up of Hari Raya Haji programmes to keep you company at home. You can also catch the shows simultaneously on the online platform meWatch.
Selamat Hari Raya Aidiladha!