Wednesday 10 July 2013

Ramadan and Geylang Serai Bazaar 2013

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Muslims worldwide observe this as a month of fasting. This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The month lasts about 29-30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon.

The term Ramadan literally means scorching in Arabic. Fasting is obligatory for adult Muslims, except those who are ill, travelling, pregnant, diabetic or going through menstration. While fasting from dawn until sunset, Muslims refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking, and engaging in sexual relations, in some interpretations they also refrain from swearing.

From Wednesday 10 July until Wednesday 7 August 2013, Muslims in Singapore will be observing the month of Ramadan.

For one whole month, Muslims are devoted to worship, charitable deeds and acts of compassion. To purify one's body and soul, they practice abstinence from food and drink during the day.

When the sun sets, the fast is broken and families and friends gather for their meals and celebrations.  The area of Geylang Serai becomes alive during Ramadan with bright festive lights, music, performances and bazaars selling wonderfully bright wares, clothing and food.  The food is one of the major highlights too from savory to sweet.  It is a perfect time to sample amazing Malay food.

The main attraction of the bazaars is, of course, the food. A trip to the bazaars is simply not complete without sampling the variety of traditional Malay cakes and pastries called ‘kueh-kueh’. Take your pick from sweet snacks like pineapple tarts, ‘ondeh-ondeh’ made with palm sugar filled centres, and ‘putu piring’, a steamed dessert served with grated coconut.

For more pictures, please see our blog post from August 2011.

After 30 days of dawn-to-dusk fasting during Ramadan, the first three days of Hari Raya Aidilfitri are celebrated on a grand scale. While Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations are colourful and fascinating, you should take note that the fasting month leading up to the holiday is probably the best time to experience the Malay culture and heritage.

When Hari Raya Aidilfitri arrives, Muslim families often dress in the same colour to signify their unity. The men wear a loose shirt with trousers known as ‘baju Melayu’ and the women wear the quintessential ‘baju kurung’. If you’re lucky enough, you might get an invite to a home-cooked Hari Raya Aidilfitri feast. A wide variety of spicy dishes are traditionally served during the three-day celebration, including spicy beef ‘rendang’, vegetable curry ‘sayur lodeh’ and Malay rice cakes called ‘ketupat’.


For more photos on Hari Raya, please see our blog post from August 2012.

If you’re in Singapore during Ramadan, don’t miss the opportunity to experience the rich Malay heritage, and when Hari Raya Aidilfitri comes around, greet everyone with a joyous ....... 

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