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The Noob guide to Ramadan in Singapore
Squid Wan, from the team at Budget Direct Insurance, gives us the lowdown on Ramadan.
Year after year, crowds get bigger, some stores stay the same and new stores appear; I am referring to the popular annual Geylang Ramadan Bazaar.
Do you want to be where the festive action is but aren’t sure of how, or better yet, are clueless as to what is Ramadan and why this huge “pasar malam” is more special than the other night markets in your neighborhood? Well, that’s why I decided to write this. From one noob, who recently acquired a level up, to all you noobs out there.
Firstly, Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year for Muslims all over the world. I will not get into further detail as to why, but the biggest component you need to know is that, your Muslim friends will be fasting from dawn to sunset. Fasting during Ramadan requires them to abstain from food and water, as well as other “pleasurable” activities such as gossiping, smoking and French kissing (amongst many other intimate acts). However, there are those who are excused from fasting and that includes children, the elderly, the ill, pregnant women, and women who are nursing or menstruating.
It is a time where families and friends gather to break fast together, also known as Iftar. After Ramadan, following a month of observing patience, self-restraint and fasting, Muslims celebrate Hari Raya Puasa, which can also be referred to Hari Raya Aidilfitri or Eid Mubarak.
The Ramadan Bazaar. The best bits.
The Ramadan Bazaar has been operating before Singapore’s independence for decades now, primarily for Muslims to prepare for this day. Houses are donned with curtains that match the cushion covers, families model their new traditional wear, usually wearing the same colours as a family, and expect food, lots of tasty Malay food such as ketupat, rendang and a variety of festive cookies and cakes.
Okay, I got your bases covered. Now let’s get to the bazaar!
- How to get there
If you are travelling by public transport, take the train (SMRT) and alight at Paya Lebar and follow the crowd, yes, as previously mentioned, you should expect a crowd starting usually from 5pm till late. If by some miracle there are no crowds for you to follow, take the exit that leads to the following malls: Tanjong Katong Complex, City Plaza, Joo Chiat Complex.
If you are driving or riding there, you can park at those malls or if you’re lucky you can find a nearby HDB carpark that has vacant lots, the most popular carpark is the multi-storey that links to the Geylang Market and Food Centre.
- Food items you should try
There are many blogs featuring hipster, fusion, “new age” or whatever you may call it so let me get you started on my favourites.
Lekor: A traditional fish cracker snack. There are a few versions, thicker ones are softer and thinner ones are crispier, have your pick. Goes well with chilli sauce. Usually priced at $2 for 7 pieces, depending on their size and the generosity of the stall owner.
Ramly Burger: Choose between chicken or beef, these burgers are omelet-wrapped and drizzled with mayonnaise and bbq sauce. Last I checked they were priced between $3-4.
Wadeh: A deep fried South Indian snack that is made with flour and spice with many varieties of it. Served with a side of green chili (not as spicy as it looks). Don’t dismiss it too quickly, because I won’t be surprised if you want another after your first try. $2 per packet sometimes containing 3 or as many as 5 depending on their size or the generosity of the stall owner.
Deng Deng: Also referred to as the Halal Bak Kwa (even though some might not be pleased with these as the consumption of pork is prohibited in the Islamic culture). These if grilled well, are tasty and juicy. Usually sold at $5/100gm.
Cempedak Goreng: These are similar to banana fritters (goreng pisang) except that they use jackfruit (cempedak) and it is my absolute favourite! $2 for 5 pieces. A must try! Careful not to bite slowly into it as the seed is fried together with the fruit.
Hari Raya fashion
The bazaar offers both traditional designs and modern ones for men, women, boys and girls ranging from a whole set or you can pick and choose the different components of your Hari Raya get up, and this differs for boys and girls. You will have to experience and observe this as you brave the crowd.
Curtains, Carpets and Lights
Home furniture too! You can find everything you need to be ready for the big celebration day.
That’s enough information for you to start with. There are also many different bazaars all over Singapore but the Geylang Ramadan Bazaar is the mother of all bazaars, so conquer one, conquer all. Soak in the Ramadan atmosphere and enjoy the bazaar!
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