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Saturday, July 2, 2016

Ramadhan in Singapore


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The sacred month of Ramadhan has special significance to Singapore’s Muslim community of about 800,000, which represents 14.4 per cent of the population. Along with Muslims around the world, they observe fasting. While they focus on purifying themselves spiritually, daily activities continue as usual. There is no change to the working hours in Singapore during Ramadhan, although employers may accommodate the needs of Muslims to leave work on time to be able to break the fast with their family.
In Singapore too, non-Muslims join their Muslim brethren in communal iftars held daily at mosques and other Muslim organisations. At Jamae Chulia Mosque, located in the Chinatown area, worshippers from the Buddhist Tooth Relic Temple and Hindu Sri Mariamman Temple in the vicinity of the mosque are invited to join its communal iftar.

Another activity in Singapore during the holy month is that people flock to Ramadhan bazaars to sample the interesting street food on offer.


The bazaar along Muscat Street is especially popular due to its proximity to the iconic Sultan Mosque in the Arab Street district.

The bazaar at Geylang Serai, a historical suburban market hub and a node of Malay cultural life, has the distinction of being the biggest and most well-known among Singaporeans from all walks of life.

During the holy month, both Singaporeans and tourists love to enjoy some of the popular Singaporean snacks such as air katira, a sweet, cooling beverage which originated from Southern India, and bubur lambuk, a fragrant and flavourful porridge. Mosque volunteers often prepare and distribute bubur lambuk.


Dates imported from the Middle East and North Africa are consumed during Ramadhan as well, particularly at the point of the breaking of fast.


Mosques close later than usual for Teraweeh prayers. Many congregants stay on to recite the Quran as well as to perform the vigil prayers.


In some neighbourhoods, Teraweeh prayers are held at the communal space of the public housing apartment blocks.


Throughout the month of Ramadhan, mosques also organise many Islamic learning programmes for youth and families, which are very well received by the community.


On Hari Raya Aidilfitri (Eid al Fitr), the first day of Shawwal, Singaporean Muslims perform their Eid prayers at a nearby mosque or even on a field! Hari Raya is Malay for “grand day of rejoicing” and it is a time of forgiveness within the Muslim community and a time for strengthening of bonds amongst family and friends. Extended family members usually gather at the home of the eldest member of the family on the first day of Hari Raya.


For the rest of the month of Shawwal, Muslim families visit each other’s homes and reinforce their bonds. Muslims also invite their non-Muslim friends to visit them during the month of Shawwal to share in the festivities. As with other religious and cultural festivals in Singapore, Ramadhan and Shawwal are occasions for Singaporeans to reinforce their multiracial heritage and identity.



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