Festivities muted, but Hari Raya even more meaningful

Families are strengthening their bonds virtually while keeping one another safe, which makes this year's celebrations an even more meaningful one, said key office-holders.
Families are strengthening their bonds virtually while keeping one another safe, which makes this year's celebrations an even more meaningful one, said key office-holders.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Key office-holders extend greetings and commend Muslim community for resilience

This year's Hari Raya Aidilfitri may be a muted one, as families are not allowed to pray in mosques or gather to mark the end of Ramadan, due to circuit breaker measures.

But families are strengthening their bonds virtually while keeping one another safe, which makes this year's celebrations an even more meaningful one, said key office-holders as they commended the Muslim community for its resilience.

President Halimah Yacob, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli and Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran were among the nation's leaders who extended Hari Raya greetings to the community yesterday, the eve of Aidilfitri.

Madam Halimah acknowledged the tough circumstances the Muslim community will celebrate the festive occasion in, but encouraged families to "make it one that is still full of meaning".

"Strengthen family bonds virtually, stay connected to enjoy festive activities together, yet in the comfort of our own homes. Stay safe, so that we can all look forward to better celebrations ahead," said Madam Halimah in a TV broadcast.

In the same broadcast, PM Lee echoed her sentiments and also encouraged all to "draw strength from one another during this difficult but festive period".

Mr Masagos said that Ramadan has always been about developing resilience, and the spirit of mercy and compassion. "Like you, I am sad too, as we are not able to visit our loved ones, especially parents, grandparents and elderly relatives," said Mr Masagos, who is also Minister for the Environment and Water Resources.

But triumph of the human spirit comes with adversity, he added.

More than 200 volunteers have distributed 20,000 meals daily to front-line workers and the needy, and mosques and other organisations have uploaded content online to fulfil the spiritual needs of Muslims. Muslim medical professionals and religious teachers have also guided the community in understanding why religious practices must be adapted, he added.

"Indeed, we can find many hikmah (silver linings) in this trial. I hope that the patience, compassion and agility in adapting to new norms that we have cultivated and demonstrated will carry on beyond this Ramadan," said Mr Masagos.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said Singapore's closest neighbours will also be celebrating the end of Ramadan under exceptional circumstances.

STAY CONNECTED VIRTUALLY

Strengthen family bonds virtually, stay connected to enjoy festive activities together, yet in the comfort of our own homes. Stay safe, so that we can all look forward to better celebrations ahead.

PRESIDENT HALIMAH YACOB

FIND SILVER LININGS

Like you, I am sad too, as we are not able to visit our loved ones, especially parents, grandparents and elderly relatives... Indeed, we can find many hikmah (silver linings) in this trial. I hope that the patience, compassion and agility in adapting to new norms that we have cultivated and demonstrated will carry on beyond this Ramadan.

MR MASAGOS ZULKIFLI, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, who added that triumph of the human spirit comes with adversity. 

He had discussed the impact of Covid-19 with key political holders, including Brunei Crown Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, Indonesian Vice-President Ma'ruf Amin, Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry Azmin Ali and Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati. They have said that the Muslim community understands the need for precautionary measures, he said.

"They have also taken these changes in their stride. What is most important is to celebrate the spirit of caring for and supporting one another," said Mr Heng.

Festive programmes aired on Mediacorp's Suria and Channel 5, produced in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications and Information, included special performances to uplift the spirit of all Singaporeans. Mr Iswaran said: "While miles apart, we continue to be close at heart."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 24, 2020, with the headline 'Festivities muted, but Hari Raya even more meaningful'. Print Edition | Subscribe