Hari Raya Haji 2021: 4 Things You Should Know
Hari Raya Haji, also known as the "Feast of the Sacrifice", is one of the most significant days in the Islamic year and it marks a special day for Muslims who will be celebrating it.
In a multiracial and multireligious society like Singapore, we are grateful for the opportunity to experience various religious and cultural festivals – Hari Raya Haji is just one of the two major Muslim festivals here.
Besides enjoying the public holiday on the 20th July, here are 4 things about this special day that you should know.
#1 Hari Raya Haji and Hari Raya Puasa are not the same thing.
Both celebrations are of different significances; Hari Raya Puasa celebrates the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, while Hari Raya Haji marks the end of the Hajj (pilgrimage). Unlike Hari Raya Puasa, Hari Raya Haji has a more spiritual focus and thus, the main part of the celebrations do not concentrate so much on feasting. Despite that, one can still expect to see tables filled with traditional food in Muslim homes during house visits.
#2 How do Muslims commemorate it?
Though optional, Muslims may still choose to fast on the eve of Hari Raya Haji. They then gather in mosques for prayers in the morning before performing a ritual known as the Korban. The Korban is a ritualistic sacrifice of a livestock such as sheep, lambs and goats, where they are slaughtered by a quick slit to the throat as prayers are recited. The meat is then distributed and donated to worshippers and the needy after the ritual. It is interesting to note that the widely recommended distribution is that one-third of the meat is to be given to the poor and needy, another one-third to friends and family, and the remaining to be kept personally.
#3 Although house visits are only for a day, Hari Raya Haji actually lasts for 4 days
Just like Hari Raya Puasa, celebrations for Hari Raya Haji extend beyond the one-day public holiday. Hari Raya Haji lasts from 10th to 13th Zulhijjah (the last month of the Islamic calendar). Unlike Hari Raya Puasa, house visits to their immediate friends and relatives happen for one day only, and green packets may not be given. The practice of distributing green packets is not a mandatory practice in Islam and is simply a tradition.
#4 Hari Raya Haji in 2021 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic
Due to the ongoing pandemic, no livestock will be imported into Singapore this year. Various mosques and organisations have arranged for modified Korban rituals to be performed in Australia or in needy villages. Singaporean Muslims will then receive the meat after it’s been chilled and shipped over to Singapore.