PM Lee launches Hari Raya light up

PM Lee Hsien Loong strikes a gong at the open space at the former Malay Village site on June 4, 2016.
PM Lee Hsien Loong strikes a gong at the open space at the former Malay Village site on June 4, 2016.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG
The Hari Raya Light Up 2016.
The Hari Raya Light Up 2016.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

SINGAPORE - Geylang Serai came alive in a dazzling display of lights and colour as the annual Hari Raya light-up there was launched on Saturday (June 4) night.

Despite a slight drizzle, 1,000 residents gathered on the field at Engku Aman Road to join in the festivities as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong launched the event marking the start of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting and prayer which begins on Monday.

This year, the 2.8km stretch of lights and decorations features traditional and modern batik designs, and weave patterns of Malay crafts.

Themed "deepening our kampung spirit", the light-up includes a life-sized, kampung-style pavilion.

Concert hall officer Mohamed Zailani Muhamed Said, 54, brought four generations of his family to the light-up - from his 84-year-old mother to his 10-month-old grandnephew.

"Although we now live in an advanced society, it's important to keep gotong royong (the kampung spirit) alive," he said, adding that he invites his neighbours, friends and colleagues of all ethnic groups to his house for Hari Raya.

Marine Parade GRC MP Fatimah Lateef said the the light-up reflects Singapore's multicultural nature, and is a good chance for more to "understand why we fast and what Hari Raya is all about".

It is supported by all communities, including by Chinese temples and and Indian groups, she added .

In a brief speech, she encouraged Singaporeans to move beyond tolerating different cultures to embracing them like family.

During his speech, PM Lee recited a traditional Malay poem, known as a pantun, about the kampung spirit.

He told the crowd that he had last officiated the light-up launch in 2004, but had been there to "jalan jalan" (Malay for walk about) two years ago and was glad to be back.

Encouraging Singaporeans and tourists to enjoy the light-up, he said: "It's the way we grow in Singapore, it's the way we celebrate our multicultural heritage and richness in Singapore, the way we come together and enjoy each other's important days and come together more closely as one Singapore."

He added: "To all of you Malays, Muslims and non-Muslims, I wish you a happy Ramadan and a happy Hari Raya."