SINGAPORE - This year's Hari Raya light-up will not only stretch a longer distance than last year's, but be more spectacular and have a deeper meaning as well.
For one month from June 4, 2.8km of Geylang Serai from Still Road to Lorong 101 Changi Road will be covered in lights and festivities that everyone, Muslim or non-Muslim, will be invited to take part in, ahead of Hari Raya Puasa on July 6.
Associate Professor Fatimah Lateef, a member of this year's Hari Raya light-up committee, said that this year's light up aims to "reinforce, strengthen, and resurrect that feeling of the kampung spirit" under the theme "Deepening Our Kampung Spirit".
In line with this theme, a common motif present throughout the light-up will be that of the weave. A pattern that has strong significance within the Malay community due to its use in a wide range of applications, the weave also symbolises the concept of unity and close knit ties within a community.
Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, who is another member of the Light Up committee, said: "The central, deeper idea of (nation building) largely revolves around (community spirit)."
A new addition to the festivities this year is a series of larger than life interactive exhibits including a giant set of drums and a huge gong. There will also be a kampung-style pavilion which takes inspiration from traditional long kampung houses which served as meeting points for families and friends.
Organisers hope that the pavilion, which will be decorated with lampu colok - or celebratory lights - will serve as a place where visitors of all walks of life can sit and interact with each other during the festivities.
Mr Tan, who is an MP for Marine Parade GRC, hopes that the exhibits, which will contain short write-ups explaining their cultural significance, will serve as a good opportunity for everyone from tourists and immigrants to locals to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of different cultural and religious traditions.
The light-up is also an opportunity for visitors to understand the "true meaning of Islam".
Dr Fatimah said: "Recently, there's been a lot of talk about Islam, misperceptions... During some of the (breaking of fast) sessions, we will have a religious leader come down to explain the real meaning of Islam."
Dr Fatimah, also a Marine Parade GRC MP, explained that this includes elements such as friendship, honesty, open relationships and a close knit family.
In line with this, this year's light-up, displays will not only carry traditional greetings such as "Eid Mubarak" and "Salam Aidilfitri", which bear a similar meaning to "Happy Hari Raya". There is a new one as well: "Berbudi Bahasa", a phrase reminding people to be mindful of their manners when interacting with one another.
Dr Fatimah said that this will help reinforce the idea of interactions within Singapore's multiracial and multi-ethnic community.
Aside from new additions, visitors can enjoy a wide variety of activities including a performance by popular singer Sufie Rashid, silat and kompang performances, sarong tying, calligraphy, and a ride on the Hippo Bus.
The event will once again have a Facebook page, www.facebook.com/ourkampungspiritsg, where visitors can follow the story of two characters, Nurul and Hamidah as they learn about the everyday lives of Muslims and are joined by friends from different backgrounds.
Mr Tan said: "It's not just about shopping and eating (but) how you bring people together."
He added, referring to the idea of the kampung spirit: "Things that are important don't change."