In a few days, the joyous celebrations of Hari Raya Puasa will be upon us once more. Muslim families will gather to commemorate the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, decked out in beautiful sets of baju melayu and baju kurung. Geylang Serai's gorgeous festive lights beam in commemoration, and the tantalising aroma of ketupat, curry ayam, and beef rendang fills homes and hearts.
Though this year's festivities may be slightly muted due to the recent tightening of COVID restrictions, we can continue to celebrate the occasion from the safety of our homes and in smaller groups. And what better way to keep the spirit of Hari Raya alive than by jamming out to a well-curated playlist of festive tunes?
This year, Hear65 has teamed up with local crooner Rudy Djoe to curate a 17-song Raya playlist that features both local and international artists. You'll find renditions of Raya classics like 'Selamat Berhari Raya' by Rahimah Rahim and 'Aidilfitri' by Sanisah Huri, along with other popular tracks to put you in the mood for celebration.
We speak to Rudy to learn more about his process of putting together this wonderful collection of festive songs.
Hi Rudy! Can you tell us what inspired you to put together this Hari Raya playlist?
"Hari Raya songs are an integral part of the Raya tradition, especially for the Malay Muslims in Singapore and the region. What’s a celebration without Hari Raya tunes? I remember as a child back in the '80s, Raya songs hit the airwaves and serenaded busy shoppers at bazaars and malls at Geylang Serai."
"These songs not only trigger a sense of excitement but also nostalgia as we welcome the Eid festival. My favourite moment as a kid who was listening and singing along to these tunes would be during the last few days of Ramadan, when the whole family got busy making ketupat, cakes and other delicacies. We did spring cleaning, decorated the house, and put on newly-bought traditional outfits for our “Jalan-Jalan”, or visiting, on the first day of Hari Raya. We also looked forward to watching Hari Raya variety shows on SBC 5 (now Mediacorp), which showcased wonderful songs and dance. The childhood nostalgia inspired me to put together this playlist."
What do you hope our readers will feel listening to these songs?
"I'm all into nostalgia and retrospective feelings. Whichever song you listen to in my playlist — whether it sounds melancholic or merry — there's no doubt that these Raya songs will continue to touch us and remain an integral part of the celebrations for years to come. They evoke memories that are special to us all. These engaging songs have similar harmony and soul. Their lyrics are about forgiveness, compassion, gratitude, and the magic of family and friends. These are all ideals that resonate with many Singaporean Malay Muslims or Muslims in general. As such, these songs have sentimental value to us. As we face the challenges of the pandemic, these songs will remind us to be thankful, to spread kindness, and stay strong as one community."
Tell us more about the Singaporean artists you’ve chosen to feature in this playlist.
"The songs in the playlist were recorded by legends of the Malay music industry. Singapore has had a good share of songs by great vocalists and songwriters of yesteryear. These songs were hits in both Singapore and Malaysia and they continue to be played every Hari Raya season."
"The playlist features celebrated Singaporean icons of the Malay music scene with recordings from the '60s to '80s that belong to fusion genres (traditional and pop). The list starts with the great Saloma with her most famous and unforgettable 1973 song, 'Selamat Hari Raya'. It's a happy song to usher in the festivities. This song was originally written as a Latin number and released in 1955 for a Malay film of the same name by jazz maestro Ahmad Jaafar."
"Other popular Raya songs in the list with happy vibes are 'Selamat Berhari Raya' (1988) by local pop legend Rahimah Rahim, 'Suasana Riang Di Hari Raya' (1973) by songbird Junainah M. Amin and a 1977 disco-pop version of 'Aidilfitri' and 'Pulang Di hari Mulia' by Halil Chik and Trio Manja. There's also the groovy pop yeh yeh rendition of 'Dendang Perantau' (1967) by P. Ramlee. Although P. Ramlee's not a Singaporean, his vast contributions towards Singapore's music and film industry should be recognised. To me, he is the godfather of Malay music and films. Traditional tunes on the playlist like Sanisah Huri's 'Aidilfitri' and Rafeah Buang's 'Bila Takbir Bergema' are sentimental, soothing and calming."
In your opinion, what is the greatest Hari Raya song ever written and why?
"We have so many great Hari Raya songs. I would say 'Selamat Hari Raya' written by Ahmad Jaafar and performed by Saloma. To me, this wonderful classic is the "anthem of Hari Raya” and is used to ring in the festival not only in Singapore but Malaysia as well. The song is easy to listen to for all ages and very light-hearted. The melody and lyrics are easy to remember. Even my non-Malay friends know this song!"
We now know your all-time favourite Raya songs, but what about your all-time favourite Raya snacks? Tell our readers what snacks you’d recommend them to be munching on with your playlist in the background ;)
"There are so many that I love. My all-time favorite snacks are pineapple tarts, makmur cookies (traditional leaf-shaped peanut cookies), the crunchy rempeyek (deep-fried tradional Javanese crackers) and kek tapak kuda (horseshoe cake filled with Nutella)! Enjoy them with a mug of teh O, coffee or teh tarik while listening to these lovely Raya tunes."