Hari Raya Haji
Hari Raya Haji, also known as Eid al-Adha, or the Festival of Sacrifice, falls on the 10th day of Zulhijjah (the 12th month in the Islamic calendar), which is July 20th in this year 2021. It is one of two major Muslim festivals in Singapore that is celebrated as a public holiday, the other being Hari Raya Puasa.
Hari Raya Haji is a Muslims’ celebration to commemorate the prophet Ibrahim’s complete faith and trust in God, to the point of willingness to sacrifice his son, Ismail. As Ibrahim was about to complete the sacrifice, God intervened and provided a sheep to substitute as a sacrifice instead.
On the day of Hari Raya Haji, Muslims will head to the mosque for sermons and prayers.
After which, the most important ritual - Korban (sacrifice) will be carried out. Livestock such as sheep, goats, and cows will be sacrificed - they are slaughtered by a quick slit to the jugular as prayers are recited. The animal is then cleaned and the meat is carved up and distributed to worshippers, especially the less fortunate.
Korban reminds worshippers of the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim to offer up even his flesh and blood son to God.
After the Korban, Muslims pay social visits to parents, families, and friends, and relax over a meal together. There is little overt feasting or merrymaking compared to Hari Raya Aidilfitri as Hari Raya Haji is more about spiritual needs than physical needs. However, you can still expect to see tables lined with traditional food in Muslim homes, and sharing of food with the less fortunate.
The festival remains core to the Muslim community in Singapore. However, due to the ongoing worldwide pandemic, last and this year’s Korban have and will be slightly different. This year, mosques will again facilitate arrangements for Muslims who wish to perform Korban during Hari Raya Haji, by having the ritual performed in Australia, and the meat chilled and shipped to Singapore. On arrival of the chilled meat, mosques will distribute the meat to individuals who have purchased sheep for the Korban ritual, and share a portion of the meat to low-income families and the community.