Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Happy Hari Raya Puasa and Children's Day

Children's Day
Children are you feeling short-changed. Haha... A combination of two holidays into one day. That sure dips a little mood here.

After enjoying so many children's day, I didn't feel the urge to find out why there's children's day. So today I decided to look up why there is a children's day. A search on wikipedia found that it is actually a day that was set by the UN General Assembly in 1954 that all nations to observe a Universal Children's Day as a day of worldwide fraternity and understanding between children and of activity promoting the welfare of the world's children. Each country is responsible for passing legislation providing a day and name appropriate for compliance with UN resolution and in Singapore it is on the 1st October.

Welfare of children is to provide a good environment for their normal development in aspects of health, education, emotional and social. It is easier to achieve the physical aspect such as health and education. But the spiritual aspect like emotional and social are much tougher to achieve. In Singapore, children are provided with good medical and education assistance. The development of spiritual falls on parents. But due to societal changes, it seems parents still need to work harder to achieve spiritual development of children.

Hari Raya Puasa
Happy Hari Raya Puasa to all Muslims. Since I'm searching on children's day, I might as well search on Hari Raya Puasa too. Haha.... its a good learning experience.

This festival is a day to rejoice. It is also known as Edil Fitri in Arabic. It is a celebratory occasion after a month of fasting (Ramadhan) and not as some mistook it for a new year of muslims. It is a religious period for Muslims. Before this day, Muslims read the Quran, fast, abstain from sensual and worldly pleasures. The purpose is for Muslims learn to appreciate the finer aspects of life and incline towards giving to the less fortunate.

Fasting is expected of all adults but flexibility is practiced where old people, the sick and pregnant women are not required to fast. Make up for lost days are allowed too where one is has fallen ill, required to do physical work all day, etc. The method of fasting follows how Prophet Mohammed broke fast. Young children are trained to fast at the age of 6 where they fast for half a day to prepare for full fasting when they are adults. Family members and friends are brought closer during this daily fasting as at break of fast tarawih prayers are conducted. Friends take turns to exchange invitations to break fast known as majlis berbuka puasa meaning "breaking of fast" as one big happy family. It is a time of forgiveness within the Muslim community and a time for strengthening of bonds amongst relatives and friends. New clothes, decorated houses and exchange of invitations between friends and relatives commemorate Hari Raya Puasa. Children salam (greet) their parents on the morning of Hari Raya Puasa and ask for forgiveness and blessings.

The first three days are the days of "open policy" where friends and relatives visit. (Oh no wonder, some mistook Hari Raya Puasa as a new year for Muslims. Its similar to chinese celebrating CNY). Muslims will visit the dead too. There's a ceremony called Malam Tujoh Kikur (all souls night), where 7 days before Puasa, a lamp is added each day and by the seventh day there are seven lamps lit in a complete row. These lamps are meant to welcome the souls of the departed who are supposed to be visiting their families in the night.

On Hari Raya Puasa, food is prepared and everyone had a heartly meal. There will be beef rendang, ketupat and lontong. There will also be desserts like cookies cakes and pineapple tarts.

This day is really very meaningful where Muslims go through the process of enduring, hardship, etc to remind themselves not to take things for granted. And with the celebration with family members, relatives and friends, no wonder Muslim society is still closely knitted.

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