SINGAPORE - 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 (May 3) 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 at Onan Road. At Sims Avenue, the start of the light-up, visitors will be greeted by a 15.4m arch bearing a 3D mosque featuring golden domes, minarets and floral patterns.
Along 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 featuring crescent moons, stars and batik patterns along the streets. A key element on all the arches is 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 a belief that visitors are expected. Similarly, with the butterfly theme, we hope that people will come to visit Geylang Serai during this period."
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 artistes 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, the bazaar 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 a parcel of cooked rice. The shells will be auctioned, and proceeds will go towards supporting the needy.
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," said the administrative executive.
"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."