Essential Guide to Hari Raya Puasa
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If you’re a fellow Muslim or you have Muslim friends, chances are you will be quite familiar with the celebrations involved in Hari Raya Puasa, also known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Contrary to popular belief, there’s a lot more to this festival than just joyous gatherings and copious amounts of food to pass around. Whether you’re the host of said gathering or a party guest, here is our clear guide to gain a better understanding of this sacred day and how you could join in the fun.
What does Hari Raya Puasa celebrate and when does it take place?
Hari Raya Puasa falls on the first day of 10th month according to the Islamic calendar, also known as the Hijrah calendar. This year, it takes place on 24th May so be sure to mark that on your calendar!
This Hari Raya festival celebrates the victorious end to a month-long period of fasting. Those who have stood by their pledge in fasting can now leave their house and enjoy a day of feasting and celebration.
How to prepare for Hari Raya Puasa?
In preparation for a fresh new start, households will purchase new baju kurungs and baju melayus (traditional attire for women and men, respectively). Thorough spring-cleaning usually takes place and food, gifts and decorations are bought in the spirit of celebration.
What to do on Hari Raya Puasa?
An early prayer at the local mosque marks the beginning of a peaceful Hari Raya Puasa. This is then followed by a visit to the cemetery where family members pray for departed souls.
Afterwards, the jubilant celebrations commence! There is a tradition of hosting an ‘open house’ party where relatives, friends and neighbours are welcome to join and share delicious delicacies. These traditional foods may include
- Ketupat – a diamond-shaped rice dumpling wrapped in woven palm leaves
- Rendang – a spicy meat dish cooked with an assortment of spices and coconut milk
- Bubur Lambuk – a thick and spicy fragrant congee
- Dodol – a sweet, sticky toffee-like candy that comes in a variety of tropical flavours
Children or young adults may receive green pockets with money at this time too.
What to give for Hari Raya Puasa
Hosts generally prepare a great deal for these open house parties, and even though many do not expect gifts from you, it is respectful and courteous to bring some common Hari Raya gifts for them. Kind wishes, like “Selamat Hari Raya!” go a long way too.
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Hari Raya etiquette
If this is your first time attending an open house party, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Greet your host with respect and politeness by joining both of your hands with theirs, then bringing one hand to the centre of your chest.
- Refrain from exchanging greetings with someone of the opposite gender unless they do so first.
- If your hosts are eating with their hands, remember to eat with your right hand. This is because the left hand is generally associated with less polite, non-eating activities.