One nation, many races.
Racial Harmony Day was invented to strengthen, preserve and acknowledge the race relations in Singapore. Here’s everything you need to know about it.
1. When is Racial Harmony Day?
Racial Harmony Day falls on July 21 every year in Singapore to commemorate the 1964 Race Riots – more on that later – to remind Singaporeans about the importance of maintaining racial and religious harmony in the country.
2. 1964 Race Riots
On 21 July 1964, a religious procession was held to mark Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, but a series of clashes broke out between Malays in the procession and Chinese bystanders. Violence spread across the country after the incident, leaving 23 people dead and 454 injured. Read more about the 1964 Race Riots here.
3. When did it start?
Racial Harmony Day started in 1997 as part of the national curriculum in public schools in Singapore.
4. How is it celebrated?
Children in public schools celebrate Racial Harmony Day by wearing traditional costumes of various cultures in Singapore and participating in activities such as trying ethnic food and playing traditional games. They are taught about the 1964 Race Riots through oral history accounts, skits and talks.
5. Racial Harmony outside of school
Racial Harmony Day largely goes unnoticed among adults here but celebrations are carried out by grassroots organisations such as the People’s Association (PA), community development councils (CDCs) and OnePeople.sg for the public to enjoy.
6. What’s the point of Racial Harmony Day?
In a speech at a Racial Harmony Day celebration in 2012, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted that Singaporeans must also build harmony and “pay attention to new fault lines, for example between old citizens and new citizens”.
Learn more about Singapore’s multi-ethnic society.
Visit the various cultural museums and centres to get to know about the country’s diverse communities.
- Malay Heritage Centre
- Indian Heritage Centre
- Nagore Dargah Indian Muslim Heritage Centre
- Eurasian Heritage Centre
- Peranakan Museum
- NUS Baba House
- Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC)
- Chinese Heritage Centre
- Chinatown Heritage Centre
Originally by Muneerah Bee / Last updated by Arshi Iqbal