Singapore shows its religious dedication with animal sacrifices, giving to those in need, and visiting family and friends during this spiritual festival.
What: Hari Raya Haji, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, lasts four days and commemorates Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son for God.
When: This festival relies on the Islamic lunar calendar and so the date changes every year, by about 11 days annually.
Customs: Those observing Hari Raya Haji dress in their finest clothes and attend prayers and sermons at the local mosque. It is then common to contribute livestock, such as goats, cows or sheep to be slaughtered as a sacrifice to God. The tradition then goes that the animal is divided into thirds, with a part going to the owner of the animal, a part to relatives and friends, and the final part to the poor. This is usually followed by visiting friends and family for a shared meal.
Highlights: This is a more subdued festival that focuses more on the spirit than external displays of celebration. However there are a number of bazaars and festivities held in the city and it can be a good time to visit some of Singapore’s most beautiful mosques. Consider visiting the Sultan Mosque during Hari Raya Haji, it has lovely golden domes with the bases made out of donated glass bottles!
Travel: It is common for people to visit their families and friends over Hari Raya Haji so traffic can be heavy and it can be difficult to find parking in the city. Some taxis avoid the more congested areas so consider looking into public transport or booking accommodation that is in walking distance to the areas you want to see.
Foot traffic is usually heaviest in the areas around Kampong Glam, Arab Street and Haji Lane but these are also the best places to enjoy the festivities. Many locals and travellers flock to these locations to meet friends at cafes and smoke Shisha together.
In addition, mosques are very busy during the Hari Raya Haji period but it can also be the best time to see Muslims praying and performing the rituals of the festival.