The Festival of Sacrifice - Hari Raya Haji
Hari Raya Haji, also known as the ‘Festival of Sacrifice,’ is one of two Muslim holidays in Singapore.
Hari Raya Haji is one of two important religious holidays observed by Muslims around the world, the other being Hari Raya Puasa. This year, Hari Raya Haji falls on 10 July, which is the tenth day of the month of Dzulhijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar. The festival marks the end of the annual holy pilgrimage to Mecca and demonstrates each practicing Muslim’s submission to Allah.
This pilgrimage is mandatory for all Muslims (physically and financially abled) to perform at least once in their lifetime. There is only one month in each year that Muslims are able to perform the Haj and this is during the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar, Zulhijjah. As the pandemic restrictions continue, space remains limited in Mecca and with the long waitlist, not everyone is able to perform the Haj annually.
Compared to the bright and vibrant celebrations of Hari Raya Puasa, Hari Raya Haji celebrations are more intimate and hold more significance for those who have completed the pilgrimage, which usually lasts a couple of days. For Muslims who are not performing the Haj pilgrimage, this is still a great time of blessings and self-reflection.
In mosques, prayers are said, and sermons read out, then there are sacrifices of cows, goats and sheep by those who are financially able. The meat from the animals will then be delivered to the poorer Muslim families, the practice of which helps the devotees remember those who are less fortunate.
Hari Raya Haji in Singapore this year, however, will be a little bit different, as COVID-19 changes the landscape and Singapore no longer imports livestock. So, this year, around 42 mosques have organized a sacrifice to be carried out in Australia instead, in which the meat will then be frozen and sent to Singapore to be distributed to those who are in need.
Impact on Relocation
Most Muslim countries will see businesses, shops and local authorities closed on Hari Raya Haji. Assignees should be aware of potential delays if they are relocating during this period and should aim to get any necessities (like groceries) before the holiday begins. The length of business closures and delays to public services will vary from country to country. It is a public holiday (in-lieu) here in Singapore on Monday 11 July, as Hari Raya Haji falls on Sunday this year.
With most of the COVID-19 restrictions lifted in Singapore, Muslims can resume their usual celebrations where families gather for a good meal on this day. If you are in Singapore at this time, do visit the Kampong Glam and Geylang Serai area for some celebratory atmosphere, or visit the Sultan Mosque or Masjid Sultan, which houses one the largest and most iconic mosques in Singapore, as it is open to all during this holiday.
More on Muslim Holidays
Both Hari Raya Haji and Hari Raya Puasa encourage Muslims to focus on the spirit of giving and strengthening friendship and familial ties. Most Muslim festivals focus on sacrifice, and it serves as a reminder that there are many people in our community that may require our help and support. As a result, donating and sharing food during this time, to those who would benefit more from it is a noble deed.
The Cartus team wishes everyone a Selamat Hari Raya Haji!