Geylang light-up to bring kampung spirit to life

Workers from H. M. Curtain setting up their store yesterday at the Hari Raya Bazaar, which opens on Friday. The launch of the light-up will also see entertainers performing a medley of 1960s Malay songs.
Workers from H. M. Curtain setting up their store yesterday at the Hari Raya Bazaar, which opens on Friday. The launch of the light-up will also see entertainers performing a medley of 1960s Malay songs.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Bazaar will open with Friday's Hari Raya Light Up, which will be attended by President Halimah

With the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan just days away, the streets of Geylang Serai will be enveloped in festive lights and installations to bring the "kampung spirit" to life.

Close to 50 light installations bearing symbols associated with Malay culture and Islam will stretch 1.8km along Geylang Road, Changi Road and Sims Avenue, from Friday to June 16.

Hari Raya Puasa falls on June 5 this year, and Sunday night is the start of Ramadan.

A giant kaleidoscope installation shaped like a star and emblazoned with Islamic and Greek motifs will be propped up in Onan Road.

At the start of the light-up on Sims Avenue, visitors will be greeted by a 15.4m arch bearing a 3D mosque featuring golden domes, minarets and floral patterns. On Changi Road, an equally tall 3D arch will feature a kampung house, a gendang - a traditional Malay drum - and a crescent moon and star, symbols of Islam.

There will be smaller arches with crescents, stars and batik patterns along the streets. A key element on all the arches will be the butterfly, which holds a special meaning for Malays. "The butterfly is synonymous with making friends and forming friendships. In Malay culture, if a butterfly lands on you, it is supposed to be good luck," said Marine Parade GRC MP Fatimah Lateef, who spoke to reporters during a media briefing yesterday.

"If a butterfly flies into your home, it is believed visitors are expected. Similarly, with the butterfly theme, we hope people will visit Geylang Serai during this period."

A 15.4m-high and 23m-wide arch along Sims Avenue features a mosque with golden domes surrounded by full blooms that symbolise a new beginning and renewed bonds of friendship and kinship. The decoration is part of the annual Hari Raya light-up, which
All lit up to welcome Ramadan and Geylang Serai bazaar: A 15.4m-high and 23m-wide arch along Sims Avenue features a mosque with golden domes surrounded by full blooms that symbolise a new beginning and renewed bonds of friendship and kinship. The decoration is part of the annual Hari Raya light-up, which starts ahead of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. President Halimah Yacob is set to launch this year's light-up on Friday, ahead of the start of Ramadan on Sunday night. Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, is followed by Hari Raya Puasa - which falls on June 5 this year - and many flock to the Geylang Serai bazaar during this period to shop for traditional Malay fare and new clothes for the festival. This year's bazaar seeks to evoke a greater sense of nostalgia, and will have a special lane with traditional food in conjunction with the Bicentennial. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

  • Stay vigilant against crime at the bazaar

  • Large crowds are expectedat the Geylang Serai Bazaar, which runs from Friday to June 4.

    In a statement yesterday, police advised the public to remain vigilant against theft by adopting these measures:

    • Never leave personal belongings unattended in public places, not even for a short while, and do not be distracted by strangers creating a commotion or accidentally bumping or spilling something onto you.

    •Avoid wearing excessive jewellery, carrying large amounts of cash, or placing your wallet in your back pocket. If you are carrying a handbag, sling it in front of you and ensure that it is fastened or zipped at all times.

    As for vigilance against outrage of modesty, you should:

    • Be alert to your surroundings, and move away if someone stands or sits exceptionally close to you; stay close to your friends or move around in groups when in crowded places.

    • If you are molested, call for help immediately by shouting, or seek help from people nearby. Call 999 as soon as possible. As heavy traffic is expected along Changi Road and Sims Avenue, motorists are advised to avoid them, make alternative travel arrangements and drive with caution. Auxiliary police will be stationed to regulate traffic, and strict enforcement action will be taken against illegal parking.

    Police also said they take a serious view of anyone who sets off sparkler explosives, which are a potential fire hazard and can cause injuries and damage.

    Those setting off such explosives that cause injury to others may be prosecuted, they added.

    Convicted offenders face a jail term of up to seven years. They may also be fined or caned.

On Friday, President Halimah Yacob will launch the Hari Raya Light Up at Wisma Geylang Serai. She will be joined by Associate Professor Fatimah and Mayor of South East District Maliki Osman.

Guest artists Hady Mirza, Junainah M. Amin, Nuradee Brothers and local band The Purnamas will perform a medley of 1960s Malay songs at the launch.

The popular Hari Raya Bazaar in Geylang Serai will also start welcoming customers on Friday. Spanning across Wisma Geylang Serai, Geylang Road and Engku Aman Road, it will have between 500 and 700 stalls, with 60 per cent of the food stalls and 80 per cent of the non-food stalls offering traditional Hari Raya goods. Stall rental costs will be capped at $14,000 this year.

During Ramadan, Geylang Serai will also host a number of community activities such as the annual Cultural Heritage Race on May 18.

Teams of three, consisting of Singaporeans and new immigrants, will take to the Geylang Serai Heritage Trail while finding out more about Hari Raya and the Malay community.

On June 2, there will be a 12-hour-long ketupat-making session where participants will weave ketupat shells, used for wrapping cooked rice. The shells will be auctioned, with the proceeds going towards supporting the needy.

WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE

With more traditional food and products, the bazaar will have a nostalgic vibe as well. Since the rents are lower this year, I am guessing the food will be cheaper.

'' MS NAZEERAH AHAMAD, who visits the Hari Raya Bazaar weekly during the Ramadan month.

Ms Nazeerah Ahamad, 28, who visits the Hari Raya Bazaar weekly during the Ramadan month, said she looks forward to more traditional food options this year: "I can't wait to snack on the grilled sausages and kueh while shopping at the bazaar. With more traditional food and products, the bazaar will have a nostalgic vibe as well.

"Since the rents are lower this year, I am guessing the food will be cheaper. Taking a picture against the backdrop of the beautiful lights is also a must."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 30, 2019, with the headline 'Geylang light-up to bring kampung spirit to life'. Print Edition | Subscribe