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With Hari Raya meaning ‘Day of Celebration’, it’s easy to see why non-Malay speakers are often confused between Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Raya Haji. These two widely-celebrated Muslim holidays in Singapore take place approximately 2 months apart and are celebrated in very different ways. Between the two festivals, the more visually spectacular one is Hari Raya Puasa (also known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri), which occurs at the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
The Ramadan commemorates the first revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad, and practitioners spend the month praying, fasting and abstaining from excesses, in order to strengthen their faith, ridding themselves of earthly preoccupations and turning their thoughts towards God. The fasting takes place between dawn and dusk, and practitioners are not allowed to take any form of food or drink during this period.
The Ramadan period will also see a whole host of street fairs and bazaars being conducted as the Muslim population gears up for the Puasa celebrations. As fasting takes place from sunup to sundown, these fairs are especially lively after 7pm. One of the most...
Singapore is a city with some of the most intriguing practices and beliefs that have helped to shape it into one of the world’s leading cities in terms of economic strength and social stability. Among the many factors that had led to its success, ‘kiasu’ behaviour might just have been the deciding factor that led the transformation of the city from a sleepy village into a booming metropolis.
- ‘Kiasu’ is an actual word in the OED
In 2012, consultancy firms aAdvantage and Barett Values Centre conducted a joint survey of 2000 local residents, where respondents were asked to select 10 out of almost 90 values and behavioural traits that define the current or desired Singaporean society.
The top answer, selected by over half of all respondents, was ‘kiasu’. Referring to one of the most prominent social characteristics of Singaporeans, ‘kiasu’ (kee-ah-soo) is a popular Singlish term that emerged from the Hokkien dialect, and which means ‘a fear of losing’.
But what does it really mean? In Singapore, kiasu behaviour is not just a serious...
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