It’s almost time to say Selamat Hari Raya Puasa!
But it’s not the same as Hari Raya Haji, just so you know. It’s almost time for the Breaking the Fast, which falls on 13 May this year. But, it’s not to be confused for Hari Raya Haji, which follows on 20 July – they’re different days of celebration for the Muslim community in Singapore and around the world. Very different!
1. Puasa vs. Haji
“Hari Raya” directly translates to “Great Day” in English. “Haji” means “pilgrim to Mecca”, while “Puasa” means “fasting”.
2. Celebration and Pilgrimage
Hari Raya Puasa is celebrated at the end of the Ramadan fasting month to celebrate, well, the end of the fasting month. Hari Raya Haji is celebrated at the end of the Hajj (pilgrimage) 70 days after the Ramadan – every able-bodied and financially able Muslim is obliged to make the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia at least once in their life.
This year, Saudi Arabia has made it mandatory for pilgrims to get vaccinated prior to visiting Mecca for the Hajj.
3. Morning Prayers
Both days begin with a morning of sermon and prayer at the mosque. On Hari Raya Puasa, Muslims then proceed to visit relatives and friends for a day of feasting; on Hari Raya Haji, a “Korban” (sacrifice) is performed, where live sheep, lambs and other livestock are slaughtered as prayers are recited. This is to commemorate the Islamic prophet Ibrahim, who sacrificed his son Ismail as an act of obedience to their God.
4. Length of Celebrations
Hari Raya Puasa celebrations last up to 30 days, whereas Hari Raya Haji celebrations last up to four days.
5. Celebrating In Singapore
In Singapore, as far as public celebrations, carnivals and the like go, Hari Raya Puasa is celebrated on a bigger scale than Hari Raya Haji. Think the Geylang Serai bazaar, Hari Raya light-ups and more! Sadly, the popular market has been cancelled for a second year since 2020. But, it’s a don’t-miss culture event – so go check it out in future years, if you haven’t already.
By Pinky Chng, August 2017 / Updated by Willaine G. Tan, May 2021.