Racial Harmony Day is celebrated annually on 21 July in Singapore. The event is to commemorate the 1964 Racial Riots, which took place on 21 July 1964.
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A Meaningful Day
What I like most about Racial Harmony Day is the meaning behind it. Singapore is home to many different races. Yet, we somehow manage to live in harmony. This alone is an amazing feat. Without this kind of tolerance and acceptance towards races different from our own, terrible things like racial riots and hate crimes are bound to occur, disrupting the peace of our little nation.
On a lighter note, Racial Harmony Day is also an occasion where primary and secondary school students get to wear traditional costumes to school and spend time learning about the rich and diverse cultures of Singapore. It can be quite a fun day indeed. Back in my secondary school, it is a day where they go easy on schoolwork and let us spend the time leisurely. Prancing around in our fancy traditional costumes and taking pictures with our friends is pretty much what we do.
In my opinion, Racial Harmony is a special day that should be observed by not just Singaporeans, but Singapore residents from other countries as well. I believe that we owe much of our country's peace and prosperity to racial harmony, and should not take it for granted.
Another commercial festival
During my school days, we had never celebrated Racial Harmony Day. I did not know there was such a day until one day my daughter brought back a letter from her pre-school saying that a certain day was racial harmony day and the children were preferred to come in their traditional costume.
I panicked because we never bought traditional costumes for my children, not even for Chinese New Year. To not let my daughter be the odd one out on the day, I rushed out with her to the shop that sell more kids clothings. To my surprise, the shop was well prepared. There was a range of traditional costumes on display. I guessed this was not the first year that the shop was cashing in on another festival.
Since that year, I had been buying at least one set of traditional costumes for my children during CNY. At least the cost was halved by being worn twice.
Bringing across the message of "One People"
Although this day is actually only celebrated in schools, I still think that this holiday is important and worth celebrating!
When I was still young enough to celebrate it, I looked forward to seeing my fellow schoolmates in ethnic costumes - be it their own or others - and playing games like five stones and kicking the chapteh (a featherball), to appreciate Singapore's folk sports better.
I really liked the idea of wearing ethnic costumes on this day - after all, there are rarely any occasions (especially for the Chinese) to wear our own ethnic costumes anymore, let alone that of other ethnicities! The celebrations also really brought across the message of "one people" to me as a child, because it showed me how everyone is the same underneath the ethnic clothing, just like how everyone is the same despite their ethnicity. I hope they continue to celebrate this in schools - it brings across a really important message and lets us appreciate racial harmony!
One for all and all for one!
This day would probably mean nothing to the adults or the working professionals, but to us, where we've been through school, it does mean something.
Every racial harmony day, whether secondary, primary, or even some junior colleges, the teachers would make it a point to encourage students to come to school donned in ethnic costumes. The day would be a happy one, comprising of performances, speeches and games. But most importantly to us students, there will be our much waited half day!
But, celebrations aside, we do have to take in mind the significance of this day and how it applies to singapore where we are a multi racial country. We have to respect each race and religion, as it is a very sensitive topic which can cause racial riots.
A day of bonding
I have always enjoyed Racial Harmony Day for a variety of reasons.
1. School food stalls start selling a wide variety of local delights, food they don't sell on a day-to-day basis
2. I get to dress up in ethnic costumes!
It's a great day for bonding with your friends and also a day where you get to learn more about other races (usually through posters and talks in school). I think it is important to have racial harmony commemorated in this way, because it is truly a blessing for Singaporeans to enjoy such harmony despite the various religions and races existing in our little island.
Singaporeans should celebrate Racial Harmony Day every day and not just on Racial Harmony Day, or else the true meaning of this day will be lost.
Racial Harmony Day is basically one huge "WHY CAN'T WE BE FRIENDS".
Remember the speech in Mean Girls? The one about the rainbows, and cake, and "I wish everyone would just eat it and get along"? Well that's basically what Racial Harmony Day is about. Sounds whiny, but the concept is fantastic though.
The importance and significance of racial harmony is lost on no one, and I suppose it's a worthy and laudable cause to celebrate. That we've managed to live together, us four different races, so harmoniously alongside each other is certainly no small feat.
The celebrations of Racial Harmony Day are also fantastic in schools. The food, the games, YAY TO RACIAL HARMONY!
Food and future
I am not sure if companies celebrate this day, but Racial Harmony Day is very important in schools. Not only there would be performances from every ethnic group in school, everyone in school gets to have a taste of traditional food, snacks and drinks of every ethnic group as well. What I love best is our school grants us thirty minutes more to our usual recess duration for us to mingle and bond through eating together!
In my opinion, it is crucial to remind every student about the significance of keeping peace amongst races. As a chinese saying goes, “家和万事兴", which means everything blossoms in a harmonious family. Our country is our home, so by inculcating the sense of rootedness to Singapore on this special day and bond with our fellow Singaporeans, Singapore would provide us a bright future.
A day to be proud of.
I don't know if people still view Racial Harmony Day as the day to commemorate the Racial Riots, but I am sure it is a time when Singaporeans should be proud that we are a multi-racial harmony, and we don't often see crimes and cases to do with racism.
I think it is really important that we continue to celebrate Racial Harmony Day because I think it is very important for Singaporeans alike to be in, well, racial harmony. If one day Singapore has a bad case of racism and/or racial riots striking back, I'll give up hope on Singapore and move to Korea. That I promise! I believe that racial harmony is also a major factor that plays in the growth and well-being in Singapore, so it is super important that we are all at peace with each other!
We should experience racial harmony among the citizens of Singapore every single day, actually. Not just on this day. This day is just a reminder, but we should be wary of how we treat the different people of different races everyday. We as Singaporeans should always be proud that we are a multi-racial community, and must never forget that!
Everyday is Racial Harmony Day
We celebrate Racial Harmony Day every year, wearing traditional costumes from other races, trying out various delicacies and gaining more knowledge about the traditions and customs of other races. This day is very important to us because we appreciate the importance of coexisting with people from other races and religion amicably and not discriminating against them. I myself is a firm believer of Racial Harmony - it is a crucial element binding our society together. From the racial riots that occurred back then in 1964, we can clearly see how dire the consequences can be if we do not maintain racial harmony in Singapore.
It is comforting to know that the importance of racial harmony is deeply embed in the minds of Singaporeans; with the government's efforts in promoting racial harmony, we in fact do not need Racial Harmony Day because every single day is Racial Harmony Day! This day is memorable though, it is an important reminder to every single one of us that embracing people from other races is not only what we should do, but also what we need to do in order to make Singapore a safe and friendly place to live in.
One big "wayang" show....
I am critical of Racial Harmony Day as a big annual "wayang" show, featuring mainly in schools.
I am starting to get very uncomfortable with how people are starting to get very sensitive over colour, language or religion. All that despite having Racial Harmony Day. I feel that prejudices begin at home and there is very little that one Racial Harmony Day per year in school could do to change that.
Racial Harmony needs to be packaged and driven through as a way of life instead, 365 days a year. People have to learn how not to be idiots, especially when they are online, running their mouths only to "apologise" and say it was a lapse of judgement. No such thing people, think before you say something crass.