Hari Raya Haji 2021: 4 Things You Should Know

Hari Raya Haji, also known as the "Feast of the Sacrifice", is one of the most significant days in the Islamic year and it marks a special day for Muslims who will be celebrating it. In a multiracial and multireligious society like Singapore, we are grateful for the opportunity to experience various religious and cultural festivals – Hari Raya Haji is just one of the two major Muslim festivals here.

Besides enjoying the public holiday on the 20th July, here are 4 things about this special day that you should know.

 

#1 Hari Raya Haji and Hari Raya Puasa are not the same thing.

Both celebrations are of different significances; Hari Raya Puasa celebrates the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, while Hari Raya Haji marks the end of the Hajj (pilgrimage). Unlike Hari Raya Puasa, Hari Raya Haji has a more spiritual focus and thus, the main part of the celebrations do not concentrate so much on feasting. Despite that, one can still expect to see tables filled with traditional food in Muslim homes during house visits.

 

#2 How do Muslims commemorate it?

Though optional, Muslims may still choose to fast on the eve of Hari Raya Haji. They then gather in mosques for prayers in the morning before performing a ritual known as the Korban. The Korban is a ritualistic sacrifice of a livestock such as sheep, lambs and goats, where they are slaughtered by a quick slit to the throat as prayers are recited. The meat is then distributed and donated to worshippers and the needy after the ritual. It is interesting to note that the widely recommended distribution is that one-third of the meat is to be given to the poor and needy, another one-third to friends and family, and the remaining to be kept personally.

 

#3 Although house visits are only for a day, Hari Raya Haji actually lasts for 4 days

Just like Hari Raya Puasa, celebrations for Hari Raya Haji extend beyond the one-day public holiday. Hari Raya Haji lasts from 10th to 13th Zulhijjah (the last month of the Islamic calendar). Unlike Hari Raya Puasa, house visits to their immediate friends and relatives happen for one day only, and green packets may not be given. The practice of distributing green packets is not a mandatory practice in Islam and is simply a tradition.

 

#4 Hari Raya Haji in 2021 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

Due to the ongoing pandemic, no livestock will be imported into Singapore this year. Various mosques and organisations have arranged for modified Korban rituals to be performed in Australia or in needy villages. Singaporean Muslims will then receive the meat after it’s been chilled and shipped over to Singapore.

Talking with graduates and corporate management teams – coupled with our existing experience with traditional global mobility services – gave us a fantastic insight into how the industry needs to rethink the services on offer, and to approach graduate mobility from a fresh angle.

Reading posts on graduate forums played a large part in the design of our graduate solution. Despite the graduates’ enthusiasm and excitement about their approaching adventures, there was an undertone of nerves in many of their posts. They’d successfully made it through the rounds of assessment centres, interviews, psychometric testing and video calls, but the reality of living and working in a new place still held lots of unanswered questions.

Our job is to support people’s relocation to a new city or country and as much as we love it, we try to think about how they’re feeling and what kind of support they really need. Starting life working for a new company, in a new city and even a new country, can be both thrilling and daunting. Finding new friends and building new relationships with colleagues, as well as learning a new job and performing well is a lot to ask of anyone – even the most talented graduates.

With this in mind, when we launched our graduate mobility solution we knew we had to make the whole experience smooth and supportive but with an understanding that graduates have different needs and interests to the generations that have used global mobility services in the past.

So how do we do this and what’s the difference?

  1. We set the scene. Graduates often have a much smaller budget for us to work with, compared to their more senior colleagues, so we start by carefully explaining our support services. These are pretty much everything a graduate needs to get them set up in their new host country but often slimmed down to meet the client’s budget.

     

  2. An immediate buddy. We connect the graduate with a young professional from their shared, co-living apartment before they arrive; the graduate can share any concerns and the buddy can give them an idea of what to expect. Once the graduate arrives, they have an immediate, familiar friend.

     

  3. Co-living with other young professionals. We’ve found that graduates are really enthusiastic and open to discovering their new surroundings: they want to connect with everyone, see the city, take in everything and make the most of their international assignment. We get the ball rolling on that right away by organizing their entire stay in trendy, co-living apartments*, where they get a private bedroom, kitchenette and bathroom, with shared living spaces with professionals of their own age. There’s often a gym onsite, group kitchen areas, a library and even cinema rooms. Group events such as bike rides, yoga and fitness classes are held most evenings and weekends, as well as reading groups, cooking classes and gaming tournaments.

     

  4. Supermarket runs. After graduates are collected from the airport by a member of our team, our first pit-stop is a visit to the supermarket to help them gather the essentials. There’s nothing like a well-stocked fridge to make them feel at home.

     

  5. 24/7 contact. We don’t just drop graduates off and then disappear. We check them in, introduce them to the staff and their buddy, and then take them to their rooms to do an inventory check and show them how everything works. Before we head off, we make sure they have our Personal Coordinator’s telephone number stored in their phones, which they can call at any time if they have any queries or concerns. This gives them (and the Graduate Program Manager and HR) the reassurance that we’ll continue to support them throughout their stay in their new city.
*Where available