Ramadan in Singapore

Updated: Oct 14, 2021


About the interviewee

Assalamualaikum.

Hi! I’m a local Singaporean Malay and work as a teacher here. Singapore is a multi-racial country made up of different ethnic groups. Therefore, Muslims from different ethnic groups in Singapore have their own traditions and culture in celebrating Ramadan. The Malay Muslims form the majority of the Muslims here. So the Muslim traditional culture is predominantly those of the Malay Muslims. For many Muslims here, Ramadhan is a time not only for ibadah but also for spending more time with family and friends. They do this by organizing iftar meals with their extended family members and friends throughout the month of Ramadhan.


1. Tell us a little bit about how Muslims in Singapore prepare for Ramadan? Is there anything they do specifically before the first day of Ramadan?


Generally, Muslims in Singapore prepare for Ramadan by buying dates. Most will also try to rearrange their work schedule and block their calendar such that they will be able to meet up and spend time with their family and friends and have iftar together during the month. Some will also start buying/ordering new clothes, festive desserts, and goodies and household furnishings in preparation for Eid al-Fitr before Ramadan begin so that they will not need to be bothered with these purchases during Ramadhan.


2. How would you describe the overall Ramadan spirit in Singapore? Does it have a different feeling on the streets when you go out in Ramadan?


Although Muslims are the minority in Singapore, the Ramadan spirit can still be felt as there would be Taraweeh congregational prayers conducted at the mosques here. Some mosques invite guest huffaz to lead the Taraweeh. A number of mosques also distribute free Bubur Lambuk a.k.a. Bubur Masjid, which is a savory spiced meat rice porridge, before iftar daily. There will also be religious events/talks to enliven the Ramadan month held at all the mosques in Singapore. The festive spirit of Ramadhan can also be felt as there will be Ramadan Bazaars set up, with the largest one held at Geylang Serai. There is also the annual festive ‘Hari Raya Light Up’ in Geylang Serai, which takes place during Ramadan, that many Muslims look forward to seeing as it adds to the festive spirit. Another place in Singapore where the Ramadan spirit can be felt greatly is in Arab Street/Kampong Gelam area. This is where Masjid Sultan or Sultan Mosque a prominent and one of the oldest mosques in Singapore is located. There is also the annual Ramadan charity drive, ‘Tabung Amal Aidilfitri’ supported by the Muslims in Singapore for the needy Muslims in Singapore.


3. How does a typical iftar would look like?


A typical iftar will have a spread of food that may include other ethnic cuisine and not limited to traditional Malay food. There is usually a spread of food as neighbors, friends, and relatives will give/share their food. For beverages, Air Katira and Air Sirap Bandung are some of the popular staple beverages for Ramadhan.


4. How does a typical suhur (suhoor) would look like?


There is no typical Sahur (Suhoor) meal. Some families may eat whatever that is leftover from iftar for their Sahur meal while some may have rice with one or two simple side dishes or just a one-dish meal like Nasi goreng (Fried rice). There are also others who may have something lighter and simpler than that like a sandwich or just dates


5. Is there any food or drink that is specifically consumed in Ramadan? Yes, please tell us about the deserts.


Some of the food you see often for iftar meals and sold at the Bazaars during Ramadhan:

  • Bubur Lambuk

  • Ayam Percik (Malay)

  • Assorted Malay kuehs (local cakes and desserts) like apam balik, putu piring etc.

  • Dendeng (Indonesian Sweet barbecued meat)

  • Briyani (Indian)

  • Murtabak (Indian)

  • Satay (Malay)

  • Burger Ramly (Malay-Western)

  • Rojak

  • You tiao (Chinese)

Beverages;

  • Air Katira

  • Air Sirap Bandung

  • Air Mata Kucing

  • Air Cincau

  • Cendol

Food (Malay Muslims) served during Aidilfitri:

  • Ketupat

  • Lontong

  • Lemang

  • Lepat

  • Rendang

  • Sayur Lodeh

  • Sambal goreng

  • Serunding

Festive goodies served during Aidilfitri in Singapore:

  • Kuih tart nenas

  • Kuih makmur

  • Suji

  • Rempeyek

  • Kek Lapis (Layered cakes)

  • Kuih Bahulu (Malay Madeleines)

  • Kek Kukus (Steamed caramel fruit cake)

  • Kek Marble

  • Kek tapak kuda nutella

  • Kuih cornflakes Red Pearl/ Corflakes madu/ Biskut cornflakes

  • Mini spicy shrimp rolls

6. How do people celebrate Eid al-Fitr?


Muslims in Singapore celebrate Eid al-Fitr for almost the whole month of Syawal. Eid al-Fitr is commonly called Hari Raya here. On the morning of the eid, they will dress in their new clothes. Then the Muslims (mostly men) spend the morning of the eid by going to the mosque to pray the eid prayers. They will also have a feast (eating the festive food and goodies) together as a family on the morning of the eid. After that, they will ask for forgiveness from their parents and elders in the family. They will then spend the day either visiting or hosting their extended family and relatives. This ‘ziarah’ or Hari Raya visiting tradition takes place throughout the whole month of Syawal. The first few weeks of Syawal is usually used to visit family and relatives. Visiting friends will start in the latter weeks of the month. There is also the tradition of giving (by the elders or those who are already working) of ‘duit raya’, which is a sum of money in packet/envelop (similar to the Chinese tradition of giving red packets/envelop during Chinese New Year) to children, teens and elderly during Hari Raya. This ‘duit raya’ is also known as the Green packet (though the packet/envelop is not necessarily green in color). The tradition of asking for forgiveness is done during the Hari Raya visiting too when they meet other family, relatives, and friends.


7. What makes Singapore special in Ramadan? Tell us about any activities, festivals, bazaars, etc..


Best places to visit during Ramadhan in Singapore would definitely be Masjid Sultan, Arab Street, and Geylang Serai in the afternoon, a few hours before Maghrib and after Maghrib.


8. What should travelers expect to experience if they visit Singapore in Ramadan?


Travelers can expect to experience the festive spirit when they visit Singapore during Ramadan as there will be the annual Hari Raya light up and decorations at Geylang Serai and shopping malls, Ramadan Bazaars, and Charity drive, special events & Hari Raya sale and promotions. They will hear Hari Raya songs being played on the radio and at the shopping malls and will be able to easily find traditional festive cookies/goodies being sold.


9. If I was visiting Singapore in Ramadan, where would be the best place to have iftar?


As Singapore is well-known as a food paradise where you can find a variety of delicious food, a traveler will be spoilt for choice when it comes to places to have iftar as Singaporeans love to have a variety of food for iftar. It all boils down to your food preferences. Singaporeans usually would buy food for iftar from various eateries/restaurants or the Ramadan bazaar if they are not cooking so they will have a spread of different types of food. If dining outside for iftar, there are many popular halal restaurants in Singapore as well as Ramadan buffets. Some of the popular restaurants to dine in are:


  • Hjh Maimunah Restaurant at Joo Chiat outlet (Malay food. It is also the only Michelin-awarded nasi padang eatery in Singapore)

  • Zam Zam Restaurant or Victory Restaurant at Arab Street (South Indian food. These 2 are long-established Indian restaurants in Singapore. They are rival restaurants renowned for their Murtabak and Briyani)

  • MacKenzie Rex Restaurant (a well-established Chinese restaurant serving one of Singapore’s well-loved national dish, Chicken Rice)

  • Tang Tea House (Chinese food)

  • The Halia (European-Asian fine-dining restaurant. It is the only restaurant where you can break your fast in Singapore’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site as it is located amongst the lush foliage of the Ginger Garden at the Singapore Botanic Gardens)

  • Katong Kitchen (Peranakan food. This restaurant reflects the unique food & cultural heritage of Singapore’s Straits-born Peranakan Chinese)

  • Pu3 Restaurant or Padi Restaurant (Both serbe Malay food and are well-known for their Nasi Ambeng)

  • Swensen’s or Earle Swensen’s (well-established Western food restaurant)

  • Sofra Turkish Cafe & Restaurant (a long-established Turkish restaurant in Singapore)

  • Hararu Izakaya (Japanese food. First halal Izakaya in Singapore)

  • Fatpapas or Fatburger (Both serve American-style food. The milkshakes are fabulous)

  • Positano Risto or Kucina Italian Restaurant (Both serve Italian food)

  • Cajun on Wheels (American Cajun)

  • Fika Swedish Cafe and Bistro (Swedish food)

  • The Dim Sum Place (Chinese-Cantonese food)

  • Peppercorn (Chinese-Sichuan food. Well-known for their Mala hotpot)

  • Penang Culture (Malaysian Street food)

  • Eatzi Gourmet Steakhouse & Bistro (Western)

  • Kohnangkam or Time for Thai or Magic Wok (All 3 serve Thai food)

  • The Orange Lantern (Vietnamese)

  • Flavour Flings (A neighborhood cafe serving American-French-Malay fusion food. Known for the halal raclette cheese used in a lot of their dishes)

  • Tash Tish Tosh (American-Malay fusion)

  • Noosh (Western-Asian fusion food)

  • Ichikokudo Hokkaido Ramen (Japanese restaurant specializing in Hokkaido style Ramen)

  • Black Hole Group’s Restaurants: The Mad Sailors (British Pub Food), Working Title Burger Bar, The Great Mischief (Spanish food), Santap & Tipo Pasta

  • Royz et Vous (French-inspired bistro cafe serving Western-European food and specialty coffee)

  • Omoomo (Korean-Japanese)


Some of the best halal buffet restaurants for iftar:

  • Straits Kitchen – Grand Hyatt Hotel

  • Carousel – Royal Plaza on Scotts Hotel

  • AquaMarine – Marina Mandarin Hotel

  • Royal Palm – Orchid Country Club

  • Seoul Garden or Hanssik Korean BBQ (Both restaurants serve Korean BBQ Buffet)

  • Asian Market Cafe – Fairmont Hotel

  • Straits Cafe – Rendezvous Hotel

  • Rumah Rasa – Bay Hotel

  • Saltwater- Village Hotel Changi

  • 21 on Rajah – Days Hotel

  • Azur – Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Hotel

  • Kintamani – Furama Riverfront Hotel (Balinese-Indonesian food)

  • Sakura International Buffet Restaurant

10. Anything else you want to share about Ramadan in Singapore?


I would say that Ramadan in Singapore is a unique experience in spite of Islam and the Muslims in Singapore being the minority here, Ramadan is celebrated and its spirit is very much alive.

Wassalam,

Roszilah


RAMADAN 2020 PROJECT: Fellow sisters and brothers around the world joined Halal Travel Experts to spread the joy and knowledge of Ramadan. To become a part of this exciting project, email us at blog@halaltravels.com. It is just 10 simple questions but the answers go beyond the oceans.




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