Here's everything you need to know about the holy month of Ramadan…
One thing we love about living in Singapore is its multicultural environment: this is one of the world’s great cities for teaching children about diversity and immersing them in an array of vibrant, cultural experiences. We also love that Singapore is the place where Ramadan (and Hari Raya), Vesak Day, Chinese New Year, Deepavali and Christmas are celebrated and respected in equal measure.
As the month of Ramadan commences for Singapore’s Muslim community (which all leads to the Hari Raya weekend – hurrah!), here’s your guide to this major festival in Singapore. Whether your kids are fasting for the first time this year or you simply want to know more about its cultural significance, here’s everything you need to know about Ramadan in Singapore.
All you need to know about Ramadan in Singapore
What is Ramadan?
The ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is the holiest month of the year. Ramadan is when the Qur’an (Islam’s holy book) was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad. The night that the Qur’an was revealed is known as Lailut ul-Qadr (‘The Night of Power’), which takes place within the last 10 days of Ramadan.
The start of Ramadan differs each year, depending on the moon’s cycle. Ramadan starts when the new moon first appears in the night sky. A full moon marks the middle of Ramadan. As the moon wanes to the other side, Ramadan finishes.
This year’s observance commences from the evening of 22 March to 21 April 2023 in Singapore. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims don’t eat or drink during daylight hours. This is known as fasting.
Why do Muslims fast?
Fasting is much more than just abstaining from food or drink, though – it is also a commitment to the purification of the soul. This means they refrain from bad habits, thoughts and actions. Not only is this a form of detoxification for the body, but fasting also teaches Muslims endurance, patience, builds empathy for those who suffer in life, and fosters community spirit as the act of breaking the fast brings friends and family together.
However, not everyone has to observe Ramadan. Children, women who are pregnant or menstruating, elderly people, and those who are ill or travelling don’t have to fast. If one missed their fast, they are obligated to make up for them another day.
How is Ramadan observed?
For one month, from dawn until dusk, Muslims start their fast with a pre-dawn meal (suhoor) and (what seems like) gallons of water for hydration. The most anticipated time of the day – the act of breaking fast – occurs at sunset, when the meal (iftar) usually starts with dates and a short prayer before tucking in.
Many Muslims will attempt to read the whole of the Qur’an at least once during Ramadan. They will also attend special services in the mosques during which the Qur’an is read.
Ramadan for kids
Do children need to fast for Ramadan?
Children are not expected to fast until they reach puberty. Traditionally, Muslim parents slowly ease their kids into fasting. For most, this usually begins from Primary One (seven years old). Typically, the first year kicks off with a half-day fast till 12pm to prepare the child for fasting until they are ready for the real deal (the usual dawn to dusk fast).
Fasting can be difficult for newbies or even the average Muslim, so coming up with ways to make Ramadan more enjoyable helps ease your kids into it. We suggest:
1. Ramadan goals: ideas for kids
Have your children set goals for the month of Ramadan. For the younger ones, it could be as simple as “fast for two hours a day” or “help mummy with cleaning away my toys.” For the older ones, encourage them to write in a journal to express their feelings throughout Ramadan so they can reflect on their day-to-day blessings.
2. Get them to make decorations for Ramadan
As Hari Raya Aidilfitri inches closer, hanging up festive decor is the perfect way to kick off the celebratory spirit. To prepare for Aidilfitri, the family home gets a thorough spring clean (we suggest roping in your bigger kids for chores). String fairy lights or plastic ketupat (rice cakes cooked in coconut leaf casings) around the house and blast Hari Raya music as you clean.
3. Teach the kids to be generous
As charity is a big aspect of Ramadan, teach your kids the value of giving through fun ways. Get crafty and decorate a big box and then every day, get them to donate a desired fraction of their allowance (since it’s not spent on food). At the end of the month, discuss as a family where you’d like to make a donation.
Where to celebrate Ramadan in Singapore
1. Geylang Serai Hari Raya Light-up 2023
Each year, the iconic neighbourhood of Geylang Serai plays host to a dazzling light display. This year’s theme, “Masyarakat Gemilang – Community of Success”, symbolises the Malay/Muslim community’s resilience throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. From now to 22 April, 7pm to midnight, you can marvel at the light display which covers Changi Road, Geylang Road, and Sims Avenue. The hours are extended until 6am on the eve of Hari Raya Aidilfitri (21 April).
2. Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar
This year’s bazaar will be held until 22 April and features over 700 stalls all over Geylang Serai! The bazaar will be split into two zones – Souq City and Street Bazaar. There’s everything at Souq City, from traditional Ramadan and Hari Raya food, clothes and accessories, to ‘essential items’ such as carpets. There are community shelves here where folks can donate perishable halal food and clothing. Over at Street Bazaar, which stretches from Geylang Serai Market to Tanjong Katong Complex, visitors can enjoy interactive art installations.
3. More night markets and Ramadan-themed events for you to visit
It’s not just Geylang Serai that’s teeming with Ramadan bazaars and events. In fact, there are several locations across the island that are having their own night markets and Ramadan-themed events too! From now until 16 April, the Kampong Gelam precinct comes alive with the return of Raikan Cahaya Ramadan. There are over 100 food stalls and retail booths to explore, projection lighting and aerial light shows that take place from Fridays to Sundays, and even performances and talks. Want to celebrate with the community and experience spiritual fulfilment? Check out the charity drive, which runs until 16 April. Psst, check out our sister site for a guide to this bazaar!
Psst, those living in the eastern part of Singapore can visit Downtown East between 13 and 16 April for Twilight Ramadan.
4. Help the less fortunate via Giving.sg
Good deeds to get you (and the entire fam) involved in this Ramadan in Singapore! Donate to these campaigns where you’ll help raise funds for food hampers and grocery vouchers, Free Food For All, and Rahmatan Lil Alamin Foundation. Even if you can’t donate, do help to spread the word and spread some cheer this festive season.
Where to break fast during Ramadan in Singapore
The greatest part of the day during Ramadan is iftar, a great time to catch up with each other and bond over food. Here are the Ramadan dining deals in Singapore – some from the coolest kid-friendly restaurants, of course!
1. Permata at Gedung Kuning
23 March to 20 April
Permata, which means jewel in Malay, is a halal restaurant located within the former historic mansion Gedung Kuning at Kampong Glam. It serves up classic Nusantara dishes in a modern way. The curated Iftar menu features dishes exclusively created for Ramadan, including the Palumara chicken, percik lamb ribs, Botok Botok barramundi, and more. Its signature dishes, such as Bubur Som Som and Kolak Pisang, are also available.
Permata, Gedung Kuning, 73 Sultan Gate, Singapore 198497
2. Window on the Park at Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre
22 March to 21 April
Planning a cosy iftar feast this year? Window on the Park can help you out in that department. Its chef team has curated the perfect Ramadan buffet that the whole fam can savour. Dishes include ulam salad, Ayam Bakar Sambal Kicap, and lamb chop rendang kerisik sauce. The Singapore chilli crab and black pepper crab are also back in demand! Complete your meal with the hot pengat pisang with sago. This menu is also available for takeaway, so you can enjoy it in the comfort of your home.
Window on the Park, Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre, 11 Cavenagh Road, Singapore 229616
3. Kintamani Indonesian Restaurant at Furama RiverFront
23 March to 21 April
Craving an Indonesian feast? Furama Riverfront has got you covered! Its halal-certified restaurant serves up unlimited portions of beef simmered with thick coconut sauce, grilled chicken with black sauce, Manado spicy fish, and more. Mmm, our mouths are watering just thinking about them! These delicacies are also offered to-go if you prefer to dine in the comfort of your home.
Kintamani Indonesian Restaurant, Furama RiverFront, 405 Havelock Road, Singapore 169633
4. Tiffany Cafe & Restaurant at Furama City Centre
23 March to 22 April
Over at the other Furama hotel, Tiffany Cafe & Restaurant offers its popular international halal buffet for your iftar. There are four different menus to choose from, featuring salad, carving, and live noodle stations. Psst, folks above 60 years old can enjoy 30% off, while kids between six and 12 years old get 40% off. Get the to-go bundle if you want to beat the crowd and dine at home.
Tiffany Cafe & Restaurant, Furama City Centre, 60 Eu Tong Sen Street, Singapore 059804
5. Atrium Restaurant at Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium
22 March to 1 May
If you can never decide what to eat, Atrium Singapore has a little bit of everything that you can enjoy. On top of its iftar essentials, diners get to savour Asian, Indian, and Western delicacies. Of course, we can’t leave out the desserts, which include Singapore staples “uncle hawker ice cream” and Pandan chiffon cake. Sounds yummy!
Atrium Restaurant, Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium, 317 Outram Road, Singapore 169075
6. Ginger at PARKROYAL on Beach Road
22 March to 30 April
Enjoy a plethora of buffet delights at Ginger this Ramadan! There are so many dishes to look forward to – particularly by renowned Malaysian celebrity Chef Wan. He has prepared his signature Palace Cuisine, which includes Kerabu Meehoon Nyonya, Laksa Johor, and Rendang Udang Galah Perak. The littles will deffo enjoy the Milo Dinosaur soft serve, which consists of ingredients such as chocolate chips and marshmallows.
Ginger, PARKROYAL on Beach Road, 7500 Beach Road, Singapore 199591
Ramadan Murabak, folks!