Hari Raya Puasa, also known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri, is a major festival marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and celebrating the beginning of Syawal, the tenth month of the Islamic calendar. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. In doing so, they learn to empathise with the less fortunate by experiencing hunger and thirst, as well as curb negative thoughts and undesirable emotions.
In the past, villagers would work together to decorate the neighbourhood, cook and light oil lamps outside their houses, the latter being a tradition that has since evolved into hanging lights on windows and along corridors. Visiting relatives and friends takes place throughout Syawal, and family members often work together to prepare food for such gatherings.
Some examples of foods served during Hari Raya Puasa are ketupat (rice cake wrapped in a woven palm leaf pouch), lemang (rice cakes made out of glutinous rice, coconut milk and salt), rendang (spicy dry curry) and kuih bangkit (cookies made with tapioca flour and coconut milk).
There is a unique regional tradition practiced by Muslims in Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia, and that is to seek forgiveness for past misdeeds by uttering the phrase “maaf zahir dan batin”, which translates loosely to “I seek forgiveness from you physically and spiritually”. Another unique tradition is the act of giving green packets to children. Muslims have always distributed sweets and coins to children during Hari Raya Puasa, but the practice of putting these items in green packets is a recent development influenced by the Chinese practice of giving out red packets.
Hari Raya bazaars are also common in Singapore, and the biggest and most well-known bazaar can be found at Geylang Serai. In fact, the Geylang Serai bazaar is known to draw Singaporeans from all ethnic communities as well as visitors from overseas.