Bringing back the kampung spirit for Hari Raya, new initiative aims to open homes

Mr Noor and Ms Kamaliah have started buying decorations and snacks for Kampung Raya on July 17, when they will welcome visitors from 9am to 11.30am and treat them to traditional Malay goodies. Green packets containing $2 each will be given to childre
Mr Noor and Ms Kamaliah have started buying decorations and snacks for Kampung Raya on July 17, when they will welcome visitors from 9am to 11.30am and treat them to traditional Malay goodies. Green packets containing $2 each will be given to children who drop by.PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

New community initiative aims to get households to open their homes to children on July 17

When he was growing up, hairstylist Mohamad Noor Hasan Basri enjoyed going around his Jurong East estate during Hari Raya Aidilfitri to visit neighbours who kept their front doors open for anyone to join them in the festivities.

"There would be a lot of noise and children running around to collect as many green packets as they could," he recalled, adding that such "kampung spirit" is rarely seen today.

That is why Mr Noor, 33, and his wife Kamaliah Kamis, 36, have decided to open their Punggol home to children in their neighbourhood for one morning this year.

They will be a part of a new community initiative called Kampung Raya, which aims to get more Muslim households across Singapore to do the same thing on July 17.

From 9am to 11.30am, families will be able to drop by as many of the participating households as possible to feast on traditional Malay goodies, play games and collect green packets.

Organised by local social platform HoodChampions, it hopes to revive the spirit of yesteryears by getting more people involved in festive celebrations.

As part of the initiative, each household has to prepare between 50 and 100 green packets of $2 each to distribute to the children.

"I think there's a very primitive desire that humans have to want to celebrate together," said Mr Moh Hon Meng, who founded BlockPooling in March 2013. It was renamed as HoodChampions in April.

Five households have signed up thus far. Mr Moh hopes more will come forward as he ramps up outreach efforts through social media.

Since putting their names down last month, Mr Noor and Ms Kama- liah have started preparing for the day by buying decorations and snacks.

Ms Kamaliah, who is a lecturer at ITE College West, intends to pack about 80 small goodie bags containing sweets and jellies to give away. She said: "It's something that I've always received from my family as a child. I hope to share the joy and make it exciting for the kids."

The couple, who moved into their five-room Housing Board flat about two months ago, are looking forward to celebrating their first Hari Raya at their new home. The event will give them a chance to meet their neighbours as well, said Mr Noor.

For singer Jai Wahab, 40, the initiative will allow him to introduce the Malay culture to his non-Singaporean neighbours. He lives with his 30-year-old wife and four children in a townhouse in the east, where his neighbours include expatriate families from different countries.

"I hope that my home will be noisy and vibrant on that day, just like when I was a kid," he said.

Mr Moh is looking to expand the initiative to other holidays such as the Lunar New Year eventually.

"In the future, I hope it becomes a tradition in Singapore again," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 03, 2016, with the headline 'Bringing back the kampung spirit for Hari Raya'. Print Edition | Subscribe