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Celebrating Eid As A Muslim Expat in Singapore

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Are you celebrating Eid while far from family? This expat mama shares how she has created new Eid traditions with her husband and kids in Singapore despite the distance from home

One of my favourite childhood memories is the woody smell of henna from my hands hitting me even before I open my eyes and excitedly remember that it is the morning of Eid (or Hari Raya as we know it here). The air would always be different that morning, not only because of the aromas wafting from the kitchen but there was always an energy of joy and celebration after a month of fasting, prayer and self-discipline. There is something about being grateful for even the smallest of things once they have been taken away from you. The first sip of water in the morning, the breakfast chaos and even the annoying banter at the table seemed blissful all of a sudden.

Once I left home and got the chance to live in multiple countries with my husband, Eid seemed to be a time when I missed home and craved my mum’s cooking the most. It seemed like a day where I was so nostalgic that it saddened me. That changed when I had children and felt the need to make Eid happy again and give them what my family had given me for so many years, happy Eid memories!

Celebrating Eid with My Kids While Far From Home

The festivities always start the previous night and the kids love being a part of it. The girls apply henna on their hands after choosing their favourite patterns, while the boys help chalk out how they will spend their Eidi (the muslim ang bao equivalent!).

New clothes are chosen and ironed, meats marinated and dough set aside to rise and finally, we all go to bed in anticipation of all the festivities in the morning.

Waking up at sunrise without using the snooze button only happens on Eid.

The henna is washed off to reveal its glorious hue, new clothes are adorned, oud is lit for the fragrance to fill the home and the breakfast table is set with a plethora of delicious dishes – from creamy kheer (a sweet fragrant slow-cooked milk) to traditional sweets and savouries that take days to make prior to Eid.

Once breakfast is done, I try my level best to capture some pictures of the family just before we leave for the mosque for the Eid prayers and meet the rest of the community to wish them and kickstart the celebrations. As we meet and greet friends and family after the prayers are done, there is a sense of camaraderie and community with a feeling of triumph in the air after a month of trials and tribulations of fasting!

Eid Always Brings A Sense of Togetherness, Even When Far Apart

The feasting and visiting begins as soon as we reach home. We have a concept called ‘Open House’ which essentially means, the table is set with decadence and the doors are open for a stream of guests from friends to family to colleagues and even neighbours who wish to come by to taste all the delicious food and join in on the festivities. An open house can continue for days after but no one seems to mind, given how beautiful it is to reconnect and strengthen relationships.

The children go shopping with their Eidi and come home excitedly with their loot in the midst of all the craziness. As the day winds down in Singapore, we call and speak to family around the world who are just waking up to their Eid. Wishing them, sharing family pictures and video calling them to see how their celebrations are going. It has become a tradition now, which I am very grateful for because we all still get to be part of each other’s Eid festivities.

A big part of Eid for the Muslim community is giving and receiving gifts. This held strong even more during the pandemic and even now, when friends and family cannot physically meet. This is why I am always on the lookout for gifts that are meaningful yet celebratory. Good finds always need to be shared, so here goes:

  • A sure win has always been pretty blooms from Sarah’s Fleurs to brighten up a home of someone special.
  • Beautiful clothes that can be worn during the festivities are an easy choice as well, Z’s Closet has the most intricate clothes for the celebrations.
  • Skincare that suits all ages and genders is a thoughtful gift that has always been well received and Baréskin’s pristine gift boxes make it so easy.
  • Last but not least let’s not forget every girl’s favourite, makeup and jewelry. Amplio Beauty has some easy-to-use palettes that make great gifts and jewelry from Lustre is a sure way to win anyone’s heart!

Hope this Eid brings joy to everyone’s home. Don’t forget to spend this holiday with your loved ones and remember to tell them just how special they are to you, because life is too short for anything else!

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All images courtesy of the author

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