Philippines to mark Hari Raya on Wednesday

By Twink Macaraig, Channel NewsAsia's Philippine Bureau Chief

MANILA : Philippine President Gloria Arroyo has declared November 26 a national holiday to mark Hari Raya.

This is the first time the predominantly Catholic country is commemorating the Muslim festival.

Eid al Fitr or Hari Raya is celebrated in many different ways in the Philippines, the variety resulting from cultural influences on the interpretations of doctrine.

That's why, according to Islamic Information Center teacher Ahmad Javier, one can often tell, depending on the way traditions are performed, the tribe in Mindanao from which a Muslim family or group in Manila originated.

But Mr Javier said the least elaborate rituals are the ones that hew most closely to the original intent..

Mr Javier said: "Muslims who have sufficient education on the teachings of the Prophet Mohammad and the Holy Koran will know the most correct way to celebrate Eid."

Mr Javier said that preparations for Hari Raya take place over the last 10 days of Ramadan, when anticipation is built up by setting aside one's best clothes - the better to mark the occasion as special.

Giving to charity is also part of tradition meant to bring joy to both the giver and beneficiary.

Prayer during Hari Raya typically takes place is an area temporarily designated for that purpose.

Mr Javier said that a predominantly Christian country doesn't have enough facilities for Muslim needs.

Thus, many adjustments are made.

Mr Javier said that one of the highlights of Hari Raya is the sermon from the imam.

The imam's commentaries about the state of community affairs are greeted with joy even when they include criticism, because Muslims take it as a chance to do better, Mr Javier said.

After the sermon comes the greetings all around - congratulations for having completed the Ramadan fast and to express solidarity.

"It's a most beautiful sight for Muslims to see fellow Muslims greeting each other," said Mr Javier. - CNA

25/11/2003

Bron : Channel New Asia

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