Hari Raya Puasa is the celebration at the end of the Ramadan month of fasting. It is also known as Eid al Fitr or Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
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Hari Raya Puasa falls on the first day of Syawal, the tenth month of the Hijrah (Islamic) lunar calendar. Because it depends on the lunar calendar, the date varies each year.
In Malay, Hari Raya means the ‘grand day of rejoicing’ and, in Singapore, it is a great Muslim festival that recognises the demonstration of self-restraint during Ramadan, and symbolises purification and renewal. It is also a time of forgiveness and children often visit their parents and ask for forgiveness for any offences over the previous year.
From the 20th day of Ramadan, oil lamps are lit in homes and mosques and burn until the end of the festival. For Hari Raya Puasa, people thoroughly clean and decorate their homes and put on new clothes. The men often wear Baju Melayu (a loose shirt with trousers) with kain samping (a short sarong), while the Baju Kurung is often worn by women. Families usually dress in the same colour to represent unity.
Early in the day on Hari Raya Puasa, Muslims go to the mosques for prayers. In the evening at the mosques, they recite the takbir.
During the afternoon, families and close friends gather together for a thanksgiving feast where forgiveness and blessing is sought from one another. Duit raya, green envelopes containing gifts of money, are often given to children and the elderly then everyone enjoys the food specialties such as beef rendang, satay, sambal sotong, ketupat and lontong followed by lemang, cookies, cakes, biscuits, sweets and pineapple tarts.
The customary greeting is ‘Selamat Hari Raya’, which means to wish a joyous day of celebration. Even so, the celebration of Hari Raya Puasa extends into three days and, for some, up to a month.