Muslims open their doors to share Hari Raya cheer

Ms Noor Mastura (left) hosting Mr Elijah Matthew (right) and Ms Sumalatha Navanesan (center) at her house for Hari Raya, on July 06.
Ms Noor Mastura (left) hosting Mr Elijah Matthew (right) and Ms Sumalatha Navanesan (center) at her house for Hari Raya, on July 06.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

People from other faiths tuck into festive spread as part of SG Muslims for Eid initiative

Muslims opened their homes to friends and relatives as part of Hari Raya Aidilfitri festivities yesterday but some even invited strangers.

Sikh, Christian and Hindu guests tucked into briyani and curry in Ms Noor Mastura's home in Serangoon, taking turns at the table with a steady stream of relatives.

Ms Mastura, 26, invited them through the SG Muslims for Eid initiative, which she started last year.

The scheme aims to link up Muslim households celebrating the festival with people of other faiths, and Muslims who want to join in the celebrations but have nowhere to go.

"The whole idea of Eid is to spread joy," said Ms Mastura, a flight attendant. "The first day is an important day and it's usually a family affair for the closest relatives and friends, but we wanted to let guests experience customs like the Eid prayer, and going home to ask for forgiveness from elders."

VALUE OF SOCIAL BONDS

Recent attacks around the world made me realise that it's very important to come together as a society.

POLYTECHNIC STUDENT PARVITAR SINGH, 19, who was experiencing Hari Raya in a Muslim home for the first time.

A total of 16 hosts and eight guests signed up for the initiative, which is modelled on a similar idea that the Humans of New York street photography project in the United States came up with for Christmas.

One of the three guests who visited Ms Mastura's home yesterday was polytechnic student Parvitar Singh, 19, who was experiencing Hari Raya in a Muslim household for the first time. "It's an honour to be here and to see how Noor's family comes together, how there is so much respect between her and her elders, and to experience their love and hospitality," he said.

He said he signed up for the event to learn more about other cultures and faiths. "Recent attacks around the world made me realise that it's very important to come together as a society," he said.

Ms Mastura and co-organisers Dhaniah Suhana, 29, a student, and Haider Amir, 31, a sales manager, said they started their society - Interfaith Youth Circle - to provide opportunities for deeper interfaith engagement, and to give young people a safe space to share their views.

They also organise activities such as monthly group discussions on different religious texts.

Mosques all over the island saw one of their busiest days yesterday.

At Al-Huda Mosque in Bukit Timah, relatives of mosque chairman Azman Kassim and long-time volunteers laid out prayer mats and prepared lontong - a vegetable stew with rice cakes - for 1,000 people.

"It's become a family tradition," said Mr Azman, 55, whose parents and some of their brood of 78 - including grandchildren and great- grandchildren - were helping out.

His nephew, Mr Zulqarnain Zulkiflee, 31, who helps looks after the mosque's social media presence, said: "For those who pray at this mosque, it's a challenge to come here because they have moved farther away, but the kampung spirit keeps bringing them back."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2016, with the headline 'Muslims open their doors to share Hari Raya cheer'. Print Edition | Subscribe