Selamat Hari Raya Puasa!
Muslims worldwide celebrate two big events yearly - Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Raya Haji. In this article, let’s learn together at Astor International School more about what Hari Raya Puasa is.
Hari Raya Puasa may be termed differently depending on where it is celebrated. Its other names include Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Eid-al-Fitr. It is a holiday celebrated to mark the end of the fasting month. As the Islamic calendar is different from the Gregorian calendar, Ramadan starts on a different date each year and lasts for 29 to 30 days depending on the sighting of the crescent moon at the end of the month.
During the holy month of Ramadan, we fast from dawn to dusk. We abstain from eating and drinking during these hours. We need to be mindful of our behaviour and abstain from activities that are unbeneficial. Instead, we should focus on spiritual healing and increasing good deeds such as doing more charity work and being kind to ourselves and others. We can also wish our Muslim friends ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ which means ‘Have a blessed Ramadan’.
After fasting for a month, it is now time to celebrate Hari Raya Puasa! It is celebrated by all Muslims but how it is celebrated differs across the world. Muslim Malays in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia celebrate it somewhat alike. On the eve of the celebration, we gather at our neighbours’ or relatives’ houses and cook delicious food together.
One of the must-have dishes is Ketupat. Ketupat is rice cakes wrapped in woven coconut leaves. The weaving of it is an art form passed down through generations. It is a communal activity often done with family and neighbours living in the same village. Children were taught how to make it and others would challenge each other to weave the most Ketupat. We need to be mindful not to handle the leaves too roughly or they will tear.
Once we finish the weaving, we fill the pouch with uncooked rice. The Ketupat is then boiled in a huge pot over an open fire, allowing the flavour from the coconut leaves to seep into the rice. When it is time to eat, the cakes are unwrapped and eaten together with other traditional dishes such as ‘Ayam Merah’ (red chilli chicken), ‘Rendang Daging’ (beef cooked in spiced coconut gravy) and ‘Sayur Lodeh’ (vegetable stew in coconut milk). Besides delicious savoury dishes, let's not forget our sweet treats! Hari Raya Puasa is never complete without traditional kuih (pronounced as koo-way) such as Kuih Tat (pineapple tarts). Kuih Tat are soft buttery cookies topped with pineapple jam that takes hours to prepare.
On the morning of Hari Raya Puasa, Muslim men all around the world go to the mosque to perform their Eid prayers. The purpose of it is to give thanks to God for giving us the opportunity to enjoy the blessings of the holy month of Ramadan. Afterwards, the men go home and enjoy eating the festive dishes with their families. Following that, everyone starts getting ready to visit the houses of their extended families. They get dressed in their beautiful traditional clothes and families are often adorned in the same colour theme.
2023 is another year we get to celebrate Hari Raya Puasa with our families. Due to government restrictions during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, we had to miss out on gatherings with our loved ones. We had to resort to video calls instead, even though our families were living in the same neighbourhood as us! Talk about being so near yet so far from each other.
Astor International School is wishing you Selamat (Happy) Hari Raya Puasa to those celebrating and Happy Holidays to the rest!