Muslims set for a less muted Ramadan and Hari Raya this year
Mosques can hold prayers, online bazaars are bigger, family and friends can even go on special cruise
Last year, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Muslims here observed Ramadan differently from what they were used to.
Family traditions were shelved as the Islamic holy month fell right in the middle of the circuit breaker, when mosques were closed.
This year, however, even though the pandemic is not over, things are looking up ahead of Hari Raya Puasa on May 13.
Muslims can engage in Ramadan congregational prayers and other programmes at mosques and break fast with family and friends, all with safety measures in place.
Last year, the circuit breaker was in place from April 7 to June 1, and Ramadan was from April 23 to May 23. Hari Raya was on May 24, and mosques in Singapore opened progressively only from June 2.
As the clock ticks down to Hari Raya, this year's Geylang Serai Bazaar, which shifted online last year, is back, bigger and better.
Those itching to travel during this period can sign up for Ramadan- and Hari Raya-themed cruises.
In a Facebook post on Monday, President Halimah Yacob said this year's fasting month of Ramadan, which began yesterday, would not be as festive and bustling as it was before last year.
"We have to be cognisant that the Covid-19 pandemic is not over yet, and even rages on in other countries," she wrote.
"If all of us stay committed and do our part in fighting the virus, hopefully we can resume even more activities next Ramadan."
Muslims The New Paper spoke to said they are thankful things are picking up.
Mr Nur Effendi Esa, general manager of bazaar organiser Wisma Geylang Serai (WGS), said many businesses had to scramble to find alternative platforms when bazaars were cancelled last year.
"Some managed to make the transition while others decided to sit out. So we had fewer vendors and the response was lower too," he added.
This year's online Geylang Serai Bazaar, organised by WGS and its partner Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SMCCI), is ready to make a comeback on Bazaar-Kita.sg, with more than 110 vendors.
Mr Azrulnizam Shah Sohaimi, executive director of SMCCI, said: "This year, we are better prepared to provide business owners with a suitable platform to fulfil their business goals in the month of Ramadan."
Even with the return of physical bazaars in the future, having an online footprint will remain a relevant business strategy, he added.
Baker Hairina Abu Bakar, 43, said: "I prepared more cookies, cakes and Raya kuih this year in anticipation of the bazaar."
Her home-based business, Vainpout, which she started more than five years ago, relied solely on Instagram sales last Ramadan.
An educator, who wanted to be known only as Ms Fadhlina, 24, is looking forward to seeing more vendors this year. "I think many people will visit the online bazaar because there are quite a variety of shops," she said.
Ustaz Hafiz Rashid, executive chairman at Assyakirin Mosque, told TNP that Muslims can now break fast and pray at the mosque in groups of 50.
He said: "Our doors are finally open for locals and even some migrant workers to observe the month of Ramadan together.
"We even prepared some videos on YouTube for our migrant worker friends (living) in dormitories to join us online."
Mr Michael Goh, president of Dream Cruises, said most of the cruise line's Ramadan- and Hari Raya-themed sailings for this month and the next are sold out.
He said: "We want to provide our Muslim guests with a hassle-free vacation at sea that fully caters to their needs when observing two of the most important religious festivals in Islam.
"Our sailings include special early morning sahur (pre-dawn) meals that will be served during designated times."
Undergraduate Muhammad Adam, 26, is hoping to jump on board in May.
"I will be roping (in) my siblings and surprising my parents with this cruise trip. It will be a meaningful way to celebrate Hari Raya," he said.