For residents of Geylang Serai, Hari Raya Puasa will be a special one this year, with a new social, cultural and heritage hub opening its doors next month.
One of the first events to be held at the new Wisma Geylang Serai, which sits on the site of the former Malay Village, will be the Hari Raya bazaar and light-up on May 12, before the start of the fasting month on May 17.
The five-storey, 6,700 sq m complex will house facilities such as the Geylang Serai Community Club, the Geylang Serai Malay Heritage Gallery and the South East Community Development Council.
It will also have senior and childcare centres, a family service centre, a culinary studio, reading rooms, as well as food and beverage and retail outlets.
At the topping-out ceremony for the hub yesterday, Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs and Mayor of the South East District, Dr Maliki Osman, said that Wisma Geylang Serai "is a symbolic realisation of the unique spirit and heritage of Geylang, but with a modern twist".
Wisma Geylang Serai sits on land about the size of a football field and stands beside the landmark Geylang Serai market.
The hub's unique architecture stems from its roots as the site of the former Malay Village. Key features from the village, such as wood panels from the original building, have been incorporated.
The Malay Village shut in 2011 after 23 years. It was meant to preserve and raise awareness of Malay heritage, showcasing the lifestyle of local Malays before the 1960s.
Wisma Geylang Serai was commissioned to replace it. It took three years to construct and has been estimated to cost around $55 million.
Dr Maliki outlined his hopes for Wisma Geylang Serai to be a one-stop space for cultural and community events for all Singaporeans.
He said that the hub will provide opportunities for small businesses to showcase their products using pushcarts and pop-up spaces.
Arts and dance studios have also been built to appeal to arts groups, he added.
Mr Rahmat Sawie, 64, who works as a contract procurement executive for pre-schools, has lived in Geylang Serai for 38 years.
He is looking forward to visiting Wisma Geylang Serai.
"After the Malay Village closed down, it felt like we lost a focal point for Malay activities. So I'm really looking forward to the new hub being our new focal point," he said. "And I hope that it can hold more cultural activities to complement the business aspect of the hub as well."
Also at yesterday's ceremony were Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing; two MPs for Marine Parade GRC, Associate Professor Fatimah Lateef and Mr Seah Kian Peng; and chief executive director of People's Association Desmond Tan.