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How To Celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri At Home Amid COVID-19

Muslims in Singapore will be welcoming Hari Raya Aidilfitri or Hari Raya Puasa under unique circumstances this year. Marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, they will meet Day 1 of Aidilfitri in a period when the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing.

Eve Of Hari Raya

Traditionally: On the eve of Hari Raya, Muslims congregate at the mosque after the breaking of fast, for communal prayer calls (known as takbir). However, this will not be possible this year due to the closure of the mosques as part of the ongoing circuit breaker measures.

This year: The community will recite the takbir in their own homes together with family members, led by the Mufti (Singapore's highest Islamic authority) and various other religious teachers, via YouTube Live on SalamSG TV, Facebook Live on the Muis (Islamic Religious Council of Singapore) FB page and the FB pages of mosques. This will be done online for the first time in Singapore.

Morning Of Hari Raya

Traditionally: On Hari Raya morning, Muslims go to the mosque to perform takbir and Aidilfitri prayers, as well as listen to the Hari Raya sermon.

This year: As mosques remain closed, Muslims will celebrate the morning of Hari Raya in their homes with their family members of the same household. After the traditional Aidilfitri prayers at home, there will be a live Hari Raya sermon which will be broadcast over radio, and various online channels, again, the first time it has been conducted in this manner in Singapore.

Seeking Forgiveness

Traditionally: Muslims ask for forgiveness from their elders for any wrongs committed during the year. It is a time to reflect upon any wrongdoings you might have done, whether intentional or inadvertent, in the past year. You will sometimes hear people say “Selamat Hari Raya, maaf zahir dan batin” as a greeting, which means “Happy Hari Raya, I seek forgiveness from you physically and spiritually.” You go to the person you've wronged and ask them for forgiveness while kissing their hand or placing your forehead on their hand. 

This year: This practice is even more timely as being cooped up at home during the circuit breaker period might cause a few unwarranted quarrels or misunderstandings with family members. Hence, this is a way to strengthen the bond between loved ones and a chance to start afresh. Even if you're not staying with your family, you can still seek forgiveness from them by calling them or sending them a simple, heartfelt text.

Visiting Relatives

Traditionally: Muslims spend the first day visiting immediate relatives, be it their grandparents, parents, in-laws, siblings, or even cousins. It is a great time to catch up and keep in touch with people who you might not see often and strengthen the ties of kinship. In fact, it's pretty normal to see families visit multiple households in a day.

This year: One silver lining from going through this pandemic is that most of us have become Zoom experts. Video conferencing apps are the new normal and help us stay connected with others beyond our own household.

In that same sprit, using technology during Hari Raya allows us to keep in touch with our loved ones in spite of the circumstances. So dress up in your best baju kurung and kebayas, set up a virtual visit, and celebrate the occasion with your relatives online.

Giving Duit Raya

Traditionally: The tradition of receiving green packets or duit raya is something that most kids look forward to. They come in colourful, stylised packets with a token sum from their parents or other adults that they're visiting. And the more houses you visit, the higher the chances of collecting more packets, which is usually half the fun. The adults also give packets to their elderly parents or relatives as a sincere form of filial piety.

This year: Some of my younger cousins have cheekily suggested transferring their duit raya through Paynow or other forms of online banking. But it is the most practical - and safest - way. Singapore's DBS Bank even has an eGift function where you can add a personalised message or sticker and it will be sent together with your duit raya. Perhaps during this period, it is also a good time to send duit raya to your relatives or friends who might need it more than others, especially if their livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic.

Yummy Hari Raya Food

If we all can be honest for a moment, the best part of any Hari Raya celebration is the awesome food that you get to consume. Ketupat, sambal goreng pengantin, rendang, satay and kuih - they are all downright mouth-watering!

Especially after a month of fasting, this can almost feel like a godsend. In fact, it is actually prohibited to fast on the first day of Hari Raya Aidilfitri so it is the perfect time to relish in the festive delicacies. And while the pandemic might restrict alot of things this year, it cannot limit our love for good food.

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