3 differences between the 2 Hari Raya holidays in Singapore

Hari Raya Puasa falls on 13 May this year. However, it’s not to be confused with Hari Raya Haji which follows on 19 July.

Directly translated from Malay to English, the term hari raya means “big (or grand) day of rejoicing”¹ and can refer to any celebration or festive occasion. However, these two major Islamic holidays in Singapore are very different days of celebration. For the uninitiated, let us guide you through the 3 differences between Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Raya Haji!

 1. Duration and significance 

Hari Raya Puasa (Eid al-Fitr)

Puasa is “fasting” in Malay². Ramadan falls on the 9th month of the Islamic calendar and it is during this time that able-bodied Muslims are obligated to abstain from indulging in food, drink, tobacco³..  Also known as Eid al-Fitr, Hari Raya Puasa is the “Festival of Breaking the Fast” or Lesser Eid that marks the end of Ramadan.

On the morning of Hari Raya Puasa, Muslims would usually visit the mosque and recite special prayers. Visitations begin at the parents’ home where Muslims request for forgiveness from elders, visiting relatives and friends for any wrongs they may have committed against them in the past year⁴. It is a time of forgiveness and strengthened bonds!

Hari Raya Haji  (Eid al-Adha)

Hari Raya Haji (which means “great day of the haj” in Malay) is celebrated on the 12th month of the Islamic calendar. The “haj” retraces Prophet Muhammad’s pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudia Arabia⁵ and able-bodied Muslims are encouraged to embark it on it when they can. On the eve of Hari Raya Haji, pilgrims can choose to fast for one day⁶ — but this is not compulsory. The celebration is usually a more sombre affair as it is deeper in religious significance⁷.

2. Rituals

One of Hari Raya Haji’s key activities is an  animal sacrifice ritual. Also known as the qurban, it commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son for Allah⁸. This ritual still takes place in some of Singapore’s religious schools and mosques. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, the ritual was performed in Australia between 31 July and 2 August last year. Livestock such as a sheep or goat is killed under the strictest ethical conditions, and the qurban meat is chilled, processed and packed for distribution by Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS) to its beneficiaries⁹.

3. Food

Taking several notches down from Hari Raya Puasa, fewer dishes are served during Hari Raya Haji. Dishes are still just as scrumptious and feature more qurban meats such as lamb and mutton.

Need recipe ideas? Serve up this fragrant Mutton Korma with Saffron Rice! You can shop for the freshest lamb and beef here for such dishes.

Were you surprised by any of these differences? We hope this was an interesting and informative read for you. And to all of our Muslim readers, Selamat Hari Raya!

*This article was written in 2021. This year, Saudi Arabia has advised pilgrims to postpone plans until after there is more clarity about the coronavirus pandemic.

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References:

¹ Anuar, M, Mohd Nasier, H & Koh, S 2021, Hari Raya Puasa, viewed 5 May 2021
² NewspaperSG 2008, Holy month, sacred duties, The Straits Times p. 30, viewed 5 May 2021
³ WalkThroughIndia 2010-2021, Ramadan – Festival of Breaking the Fast, viewed 5 May 2021
⁴ Lim, A 2015, Time for bonding and forgiving, The Straits Times, viewed 5 May 2021
⁵ Long, D. E 1929, . The hajj today: A survey of the contemporary Mekkah pilgrimage. Albany: State University of New York Press, pp. 8–10, viewed 6 May 2021
⁶  Expat Living 2020, 6 things to know about Hari Raya Haji, viewed 6 May 2021
⁷ ⁸ Ghosh, P 2016, How To Celebrate Eid al-Adha In Singapore, viewed 6 May 2021
⁹ Low, D 2020, 155 households of Muis beneficiaries receive korban meat, viewed 7 May 2021

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