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Ramadan and Hari Raya: All the happenings in Geylang Serai

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Ramadan kicks off tomorrow and the festivities have ensued! Here’s what to check out in Geylang Serai, Singapore’s hub rich in Malay culture

The holy Islamic calendar month of Ramadan is set to begin tomorrow, which means Hari Raya Aidilfitri (sometimes spelled ‘Eidulfitr’) is hot on our toes! While the fasting month means going without food and water (plus bad habits like smoking, among others) from dawn to dusk for Muslims, with every festive period also comes the food, shopping, and plenty of merriment for those celebrating once the sun goes down. You can join in the fun, too — why not bring the kiddos over to Geylang Serai for a glimpse of the glitz and glam, mama?

Hari Raya Light Up

The Geylang Serai Hari Raya Light-up commenced last Saturday, 20 May 2017, and features a visual extravaganza comprising over 900,000 (wow!) LED light bulbs lining the roads. Little ones and adults alike will be in awe at the new larger-than-life installations – all fashioned after traditional Malay icons – and educational displays about Malay arts and culture.

Look up when you’re along Sims Avenue and Changi Road to catch the centrepieces of this year’s light up – a kampung house motif with leaf motifs designed like songket (a traditional Malay fabric made of hand-woven patterns), and words of blessings that Muslims often use during the holy month like Eid Mubarak and Salam Aidilfitri (both wishing “Blessed Eid!”).

Installations & Temporary Exhibitions

Other gigantic installations include a 4.4-metre tall wau (Kelantanese kite) which allows visitors to learn about the richness and diversity of Malay arts and culture, and a 12-metre wide kelong (offshore platform made of wood) and sampan (fishing boat). Plus, visit the Malay Museum at Kampong Ubi Community Centre to see the gongs, fishing boats, weaponry used by Malay nobles and traditional Malay games!

Geylang Serai Bazaar 

The annual crowd-pleaser (and basically everyone’s favourite part!), Geylang Serai Bazaar, is now on till 24 June 2017, spanning the areas around Geylang Serai market, Joo Chiat Complex and along Haig Road! As always, food is pretty much the main attraction and stalls are offering exciting snacks such as candy floss burritos, poké bowls and ‘rainbow planet’ ice-cream buns (we don’t know what those are yet, but watch this space!). You’ll also find a wide variety of traditional costumes and decorations at the bazaar. Check out our recap of the bazaar from last year for a taster of what to expect, mama!

Community Events & Performances

Cultural performances will be held near Kembangan-Chai Chee Community Hub every weekend between 20 May and 7 July 2017 – it’s the perfect time to catch all the action with the kiddos! Popular acts that will perform include Ramli Sarip – Singapore’s very own “Papa Rock” – and other cultural groups well-versed in the kompang (traditional Malay percussion instrument) and enthralling Malay dance.

Movie buffs can also look forward to free screenings of popular Malay films by legendary actor P. Ramlee, such as Laksmana Do Re Mi, Seniman Bujang Lapok, Pendekar Bujang Lapok and Ali Baba Bujang Lapok.

A Cultural Heritage Race will be held on Saturday, 3 June 2017, hoping to bring Malay traditions closer to participants as they race around Geylang Serai to discover more about Hari Raya celebrations. The event is open to new citizens, locals and tourists, so keep your eyes peeled for more deets, mama!

All the details!
When: Light up, installations and exhibitions happening now till 7 July 2017. Geylang Serai bazaar running now till 24 June 2017.
Where: Along the stretch of Changi Road between Joo Chiat Road and Paya Lebar Road
How to get there: Alight at Paya Lebar MRT and just follow the lights and commotion!

Lead image courtesy of the author. Poké bowl image sourced via Pokerrito

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