One nation, many races
Racial Harmony Day was invented about 20 years ago to strengthen, preserve and acknowledge the race relations among Singaporeans. Here’s (almost) everything you need to know about it.
1. Racial Harmony Day falls on July 21 every year in Singapore to commemorate the 1964 Race Riots – more on that later – to remind Singaporeans about the importance of maintaining racial and religious harmony in the country.
2. On 21 July 1964, a religious procession was held to mark Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, but a series of clashes broke out between Malays in the procession and Chinese bystanders. Violence spread across the country after the incident, leaving 23 people dead and 454 injured. Read more about the 1964 Race Riots here.
3. Racial Harmony Day started in 1997 as part of the national curriculum in public schools in Singapore.
4. Children in public schools celebrate Racial Harmony Day by wearing traditional costumes of various cultures in Singapore and participating in activities such as trying ethnic food and playing traditional games. They are taught about the 1964 Race Riots through oral history accounts, skits and talks.
How can expats can learn more about Singapore’s multi-ethnic society?
Visit the various cultural museums and centres to get to know about the country’s diverse communities.
- Malay Heritage Centre
- Indian Heritage Centre
- Nagore Dargah Indian Muslim Heritage Centre
- Eurasian Heritage Centre
- Peranakan Museum
- NUS Baba House
- Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC)
- Chinese Heritage Centre
- Chinatown Heritage Centre
By Muneerah Bee, last updated July 2017
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