In a country like Singapore where there are a number of Muslims, Hari Raya preparations can be seen at least one month before the festival. Geylang Serai, the place that is known for the Muslims to gather, is always filled with large crowds during Ramadan. Bazaars would be set up and they would be selling numerous festive items for Muslims. Carpets, clothes, bags, food, music CDs, household items and VCDs would also be sold at Geylang. At night the place is lit up with glittering lights. There would also be a wide variety of food which would be sold at the fairs and they include kuehs, otah-otah, cakes, buns, breads, curry, noodles and even curry puffs. Most of the Muslims shop here to get the food to bring home to eat when they are breaking the fast. The time when the Muslims break the fast is usually around 7:15 pm.
They feel that the young ones asking forgiveness from their elders is very essential. On the day, they also visit their relatives and friends to celebrate the happy occasion. If you visit Muslims' homes on Hari Raya you can expect to taste a wide variety of delicious spicy dishes. Some favorite dishes that can be found in Muslims homes on this special occasion are ketupat, lontong, nasi padang and beef rendang. The Muslims also have the habit of giving packets of money to kids when they go visiting. The packets are usually be in green color and children often look forward to getting these money tokens on Hari Raya Puasa. Overall, Hari Raya is a delightful festival for the Muslims.
In big cities and towns, shopping malls will hold big promotions and price discounts for festive shoppers as people purchase clothes and supplies. Decorations are hung in public areas and Hari Raya songs will be played in shopping complexes. The media, such as the television will host various programs in conjunction with the celebrations.
Many people also traditionally return to their hometown generally from big metropolitan cities to rural areas. This is known as balik kumpung — literally going back to one's home town to celebrate Hari Raya with family and friends. At many times, the flux of vehicles on the roads nationwide increased the number of car accidents, including deadly ones, occurring during the festive season. Road safety campaigns are often launched by the authorities ahead of the festivities in the effort of lowering the discomforting number of accidents.
As the 1st day of Hari Raya is a public holiday, Da and I arranged to meet my mother and my brother for lunch. As we drove out, I gasped. A street sign had crashed into a neighbouring home, destroying the fence.
As we were relaxing and chatting after brunch, we decided to have a cookout for dinner. So off we went to Giant Hypermarket to look for groceries. As we were walking down the aisles, I caught my mother's hand in excitement. I had spied Lewis Hamilton! (heehee....)
After the grocery shopping (we forgot that it was "Bring Your Own Bag Day" and we were expected to make a donation if we wanted plastic bags to be supplied to pack our groceries), Da and I went to the gym while my mother and brother went home to rest before dinner.
After the gym session (I must admit that I was a little lazy and we exercised for only about 35 minutes), we proceeded to my mother's home. The cooking preparation had started. My youngest brother was the Head Chef for the night.
We decided to cook Indian-Muslim food. As the kitchen is rather small, we had to make do and kept getting in each other's way! It was all in good fun.
First up, curry chicken. My family only uses Baba's curry powder. Did you know that the recipe for the curry powder came from Da's friend's aunt in Malaysia? The company apparently bought the recipe from her and is paying her royalties (or something along those lines).We had bought a whole batang fish from Giant Hypermarket, so we cooked a fish curry. I suggested adding some fresh lemon juice to make the gravy zesty.
The next dish is a recipe that I learned from Da's friend (may he rest in peace). I could not find any mustard seeds (sorry, pal, for modifying your recipe!) so we settled for cumin seeds. The cabbage looks yellow because it is fried with tumeric. Add salt, pepper, sugar, garam masala and paprika to taste.
(For the recipe for gula melaka agar-agar, please refer to http://jesuslovespebbles.blogspot.com/2008/09/gula-melaka-agar-agar.html.)
My mother was given some Chinese tea leaves from China, so my brother brewed a pot of tea. The tea is very smooth!
To all my Malay / Muslim friends, SELAMAT HARI RAYA ADILFITRI!