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Hari Raya light-up to delight history buffs

History buffs will get a glimpse of old Malay culture and architecture during the annual Hari Raya Light-Up
The Straits Times - June 21, 2014
By: Audrey Tan
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Hari Raya light-up to delight history buffs The Hari Raya light-up this year will put traditional Malay architecture in the spotlight. The Grand Entourage arch along Geylang Road, for example, features multi-tiered pyramidal roofs. -- ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN

A walk through Geylang Serai during this year's Ramadan, a holy month of fasting and prayer for Muslims, will delight more than just the shutterbugs.

History buffs will get a glimpse of old Malay culture and architecture during the annual Hari Raya Light-Up in Sims Avenue, and Geylang and Changi roads. It starts next Friday.

For the first time, visitors can take part in activities, including traditional games and screenings of Malay movies, at interactive booths near Jalan Engku Aman.

Associate Professor Fatimah Lateef, Member of Parliament (MP) for Marine Parade GRC and adviser to grassroots groups for the Geylang Serai division, gave details of the fair yesterday. About 1.3km of road will be turned into tapestries of colourful history, with arches featuring traditional Malay motifs and architecture. The main Grand Entourage arch at one end of Geylang Road, for instance, will feature multi-tiered pyramidal roofs, called "tajung" in Javanese, that were popular in Malay houses of 1870s Singapore. Like the other arches, it is supported by pillars inspired by Turkish-style minarets. The light-up will end on July 31, after Hari Raya Puasa on July 28 - when Muslims celebrate the end of Ramadan.

The 17-man committee behind this year's festivities - led by Prof Fatimah and Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, also an MP for Marine Parade GRC - aims to help Singaporeans and tourists gain a deeper understanding of Malay traditions and culture.

"Unlike a melting pot, Singapore is closer to a salad bowl with different flavours (cultures) all co-existing in harmony - we do not want to lose the different flavours, instead we want to celebrate them and pass (them) on to our next generation," said Prof Fatimah in a statement.

Madam Jenap Said, 55, is looking forward to the light-up as it helps "create the mood" for Hari Raya.

The head quality control manager said: "Even though there are other Hari Raya bazaars around, many still enjoy going to Geylang Serai as it has everything you need to get ready for Hari Raya."

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