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21st of July of every year, schools will celebrate Racial Harmony Day to commemorate the 1964 Race Riots which took place on 21 July 1964. Every year, schools will encourage students to dress in their traditional costumes and play traditional games to reflect and celebrate Singapore racially harmonious nation.
This year, no doubt, smarties got to dress up and took part in the events held by their respective schools. They had a great time exploring and learning about different cultures during the school’s celebration.
Over the weekend, we got to learn even more by visiting the Sultan Mosque located at Muscat Street and is known as a prominent landmark in the Kampong Glam Malay Heritage District. It’s our first time stepping into that street, really. We always bypass the area but never stepped into it. There were many tourists taking pictures of the mosque and we felt like a tourist ourselves too.
If you do not know, the Mosque has just completed its renovation and was officially opened on 16 January 2016. The refurbished mosque was magnificent.
Did you notice the black rim below the dome? That black rim below the dome is adorned with glass bottle ends that were collected as donations from poor Muslims. Not only the wealthy Muslims got to contribute, the poor ones too.
Before we entered the mosque, we put on the orange ribbon given by the organisers from OnePeople.sg to show our support against racism and respect each other.
We proceeded to the mosque and were greeted by a friendly guide who explained the history of the mosque and more about their Muslim culture. The guides are actually volunteers at the mosque who will bring you around, and answer any queries that you have.
Check out the background. Many people were standing at the “main entrance” to the hall to take pictures of the grand hall. No one is supposed to enter the hall except for Muslims who are there to perform their prayers.
As told by the guide, the grand prayer hall is fully carpeted and it can accommodate up to 5000 people in mass prayer. The hall will be occupied by men while the upper floor will be occupied by women. This is to avoid/prevent distractions. That’s right, everyone has to be extremely focused during prayers.
Check out the date and time board above. Those are the timings to perform prayers. Muslims actually perform five daily prayers: predawn, midday, afternoon, sunset and night. Prayer times are standard for Muslims in the world and is calculated based on the Sun and the geography. Before the guide explained to us, we thought that the Muslims only pray once a day.
Look at the detailed design of the gate.
The tour was really insightful as we had a valuable lesson from the guide to learn more about the Muslims. Yep, we had a really friendly guide that day who shared his knowledge generously with us.
If you are interested in visiting the Sultan Mosque, do be reminded to dress modestly. There are temporary cover-up clothes for visitors on a first come first served basis. The visiting hours are as follows:
Mondays to Sundays: 10am to 12noon / 2pm to 4pm
Fridays: 2.30pm to 4pm
As for lunch, we had a simple and delicious meal at Singapore Zam Zam Restaurant, which was about 10 minutes walk from Sultan Mosque. Smarties were famished by the time we reached there and they finished up their meal in no time. After the meal, we had a short tour on our own around Kampong Glam district to get ourselves soaked further into their culture before we headed home.
A visit to different cultural lifestyles and their religions is a great way to explore how others live. It can be enlightening, fun and also tasty (look at the food above!). Although the information provided can sometimes be too heavy for smarties to absorbed, they definitely had a great time getting the exposure. Is always good to learn something everyday, isn’t it?