Hari Raya Haji Festival in Singapore

Hari Raya Haji is a very important festival for the Muslims in Singapore.Hari Raya Haji is a 4-day long festival starting on day 10 in the holy month of Dhul Hijja according to the Islamic calendar. Hari Raya Haji is celebrated by the practicing Muslims to mark the end of their annual holy pilgrimage to Mecca. The auspicious day of Hari Raya Haji also commemorates Prophet Ibrahim's readiness to sacrifice his son Ishmael to Allah,the lord.

The festivals of Singapore are as colorful as the country. Because of its multi-ethnic nature, several religious festivals are celebrated in the country round ?the year with great fervor. Hari Raya Haji Festival is one of the most prominent religious celebrations of the people of Singapore.This is a festival celebrated by the Muslims inhabiting the country. According to the Muslim calendar, it starts on the 10th day of the auspicious month of Dhul Hijja and continues for 4 days. The festival marks the ending of the holy pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

‘Haj’ is the largest pilgrimage in the world and practicing Muslims from different corners of the world gather at Mecca, the ‘fifth pillar’ of Islam to show their integrity to Allah. Normally, Hari Raya Haji is scheduled to be observed after 70 days of Ramadan. 

The other version of the event is known as Eid al-Adha which is celebrated to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim's preparedness to sacrifice his beloved son Ishmael to Allah. Hari Raya Haji is a national holiday in Singapore.

On this day, Muslims sacrifice livestock to Allah and then their meat is distributed among the community and relatives. The poor and destitute receive foods, clothes and share of meat as the religion teaches the Muslims to share their wealth with others. Friends and relatives are also invited and visited on this day. Normally, community prayers are conducted before the sacrificial ritual. Male volunteers normally carry out the sacrificing act at Mosques or Muslim institutes. The sacrifice needs to be done adhering to Muslim religious laws and the throat of the cow, goat or sheep is cut with a sharp knife. This act of sacrifice is popularly known as ‘Korban’.

Dates of The Hari Raya Haji festival

The Hari Raya Haji Festival will be celebrated on 26th October 2012.

However in 1991, the constitution was again amended to have a popularly elected President who would also enjoy veto powers in certain matters of national importance. With a small geographical area, the government works at just one level, the national and the local government being the same.

The Cabinet of Singapore headed by the Prime Minister wields the executive powers of the state. The dominant political party in Singapore is the People's Action Party (PAP) since its independence in 1965. The other parties are the Worker's Party of Singapore and the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP). Currently Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his cabinet head the government. Elections are held every five years and the party, which gains a 50% majority, is elected to form the government. Singapore's government has always been rated as one of the most politically transparent and least corrupt government in the world.

A combination of many ethnic groups and cultures, Singapore continued as a stable and united country without any clash between social groups, unlike many other countries in the South and Southeast Asia. It is a result of the wisdom and might of the leadership under Lee Kuan Yew. Though Singapore does not identify itself with the western political democracy system, it takes many positive aspects as a result of westernised logical thinking. Politics is practised by a small group within the Peoples’ Action Party. There has been a conscious effort to depoliticize the social body and make people think in terms of merit. This helped Singapore build a strong economy with high quality of living.

One of the great merits of Singapore politics is that it is free from corruption. There were very rare cases of political and bureaucratic corruption that became issue of public discussion.

Singapore’s political system is criticised as authoritarian, based on meritocracy by its core leadership which promotes only those who are loyal to it, Singaporean governing elite treats the opposition as destructive forces. People’s Action Party is continuously in power, and only loyal successors are permitted. There are incidents where opposition leaders are charged with legal cases to keep them away from active politics. Freedom of press and of speech is to some extend curtailed. It is justified on the rationale that too much of freedom will be misused by disintegrating forces. Public discussion on political issues is less promoted. Singapore civil society is seems to have learned what issues they can discuss and what not.

The other names for the Hari raya Haji FestivalThe Hari Raya Haji Festival is also known as the "festival of sacrifice", and in Singapore the festival is also known as the "Iduladha","Qurbani",Qurban and Haji An increasing number of practicing Muslims in Singapore are performing ‘Korban’ on the eve of Hari Raya Haji.    

In Singapore, the fervor of the festival can be experienced in the areas of Geylang Serai and Kampong Glam. Both the areas become vibrant with shops and markets selling various types of food, clothes and decoration. Houses and entrances are decorated with religious flags, banners and festoons. Almost 15% of the population in Singapore is Muslim and to make enough meat available for them, special shipments of livestock get imported before the celebration. These livestock are imported by state-appointed vendors who would then distribute them among the mosques and institutes.

The growing number of foreign Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have brought in their local flavors into the celebration of Hari Raya Haji which have made it an even more exciting festival in the country. These communities have their special rituals that they perform on the eve of the day.

Hari Raya Haji Festival is celebrated after 70 days of the holy month of Ramadan.

Significance of the Hari Raya Haji Festival

Hari Raya Haji is a sacred festival of the Muslims which marks the end of their annual holy pilgrimage to the most sacred place in the Islamic religion, Mecca. Observances of the Hari Raya Haji Festival

On this holy day Muslim congregate in the mosques to offer their prayers to the Lord and sermons are also read out there. They sacrifice sheep, goats and camels (which symbolizes Prophet Ibrahim's readiness to sacrifice his son Ishmael to the Lord, Allah) and donate the meats to the poor people. It's the day when the Muslim community's ethics and practices are perfectly observed. People pay visit to their parents, families and friends.

Rituals and Traditions of the Hari Raya Haji Festival

On this auspicious day in the Islamic calendar Muslims dress up in their best clothes and offer prayers to the Lord Allah in the mosques. They also sacrifice the best of their cattle which symbolizes the prophet Ibrahim's ready sacrifice of his son Ishmail to Allah and later distributes it to the poor and the hungry so that they can enjoy the feast on Eid-ul ¯Adha. It's a day to perform charities and the Muslims take care to see that no people remain hungry or starve on this holy day.

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