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Ramadan and its joyous conclusion in Singapore and Malaysia

Friday August 05, 2011 03:20:58 PM, Michael Aquino

Ramadan in Southeast Asia is best experienced through the bazaars in cities like Singapore and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

(Photo: Raja Indra Putra)

The festival of Ramadan (Ramadhan, or Bulan Puasa in Malay) is an important event in the Muslim calendar, a time of personal reflection and bonding with one's family.


Muslims throughout Southeast Asia commemorate Ramadan by fasting throughout the daylight hours. Fasting is required of all capable Muslims, who must refrain from indulging base needs like eating and smoking while the sun is up.


At the end of the day, Muslims break their fast (buka puasa) with a huge meal called iftar, usually eaten communally at home or at bazaars that are set up specifically for Ramadan and Hari Raya Aidilfitri, the joyous end of Ramadan.


Fasting ends when the new moon is sighted on the final evening of Ramadan. Once sighted, the new moon portends the first day of Aidilfitri at sunrise, a joyful end to Ramadan that is as anticipated in Malay households as Christmas is in Western ones.


Ramadan Bazaars

Ramadan in Southeast Asia is best experienced through the bazaars in cities like Singapore and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. These bazaars are closed throughout the day, but come to life in the late afternoon as bazaar food shops prepare food for Muslims breaking their fast at sundown.

The bazaars continue to operate through the night, providing food and shopping for both Muslims and non-Muslim visitors alike.


Traditional Malay dishes are the top draw at Ramadan bazaars - chicken rice, curries, rice cakes, and juices are ready to be sampled in these bazaars' tightly-packed warrens. These dishes are cooked on the spot over open coals, freshness guaranteed.


Ramadan bazaars also offer great shopping value on traditional items, including textiles, clothes, decorative gewgaws, and even modern conveniences like CDs.


Ramadan Bazaars in Malaysia

The Muslim majority in Malaysia (Muslim Malays constitute about 60% of the population) eagerly anticipate the Ramadan bazaars that help them break their fast at the end of the day.


The shoppers in the bazaars aren't all Muslim, though; Malaysian Chinese and foreign tourists also benefit from the bazaars' great eats and bargains.

For Ramadan, the Ramadan bazaars all throughout Malaysia operate the entire holy month, opening at 4pm every day.


For pics and food recommendations, nothing beats blogger boo_licious' lavishly-illustrated blog entries reviewing Malaysian Ramadan bazaars in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.


Ramadan Bazaars in Singapore

Singapore's Ramadan bazaars sell food for buka puasa, as well as traditional handicrafts, clothes, and so much more. These can be found all over the island, but the biggest ones are on Kampong Glam and Geylang Serai.


Iftar at Kampong Glam

Compound of Sultan Mosque and Muscat Street

Many Singaporean Muslims break their fast communally in front of the Sultan Mosque, an experience you can join yourself! Try the traditional iftar foods cherished by Muslims: dates, congee, rice, noodles, and the milky passion fruit drink called kathira. Kampong Glam can be reached via MRT, just stop at Bugis station (EW12).


Hari Raya Puasa

Muslims welcome the end of Ramadan (called Hari Raya Puasa, or Aidilfitri) by going back to their hometowns and spending the Aidilfitri season with their close family members. City-based Malays spend the whole day visiting family and friends, decked out in matching baju Melayu and baju kurung.

For practicing Muslims, Hari Raya Aidilfitri is a day that celebrates personal triumph over one's appetites - each Muslim feels purified and renewed by weeks of fasting.


Muslims begin the day by going to the mosque for morning prayers. Breakfast at home follows (the first daylight meal in a long time), then family members visit cemeteries to offer prayers for the dearly departed.

Younger family members seek blessings from elders by kissing their hands and greeting them "Selamat Hari Raya", or "happy Hari Raya". Children are also given packets of money by their elders.



The above article which beautifully describe how Ramadan and Eid are celebrated in Singapore and Malaysia, first appeared on during Ramadan 2009






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