In Singapore, Muslims give out duit raya (Raya money, green packets) during Syawal, the month after Ramadan.
While duit raya is a widespread custom among Muslims in Singapore, it isn’t 100% compulsory to give. Different families and individuals have their own unique practices. These include how much duit raya to give, and at what stage of life you start handing out these green packets.
You might be wondering, what if I see a stranger’s kid at my uncle’s house? Is my $10 duit raya too much, or too little? Is there a going rate? Or maybe you aren’t celebrating Raya yourself, but are just curious about how duit raya works. Whether you’re feeling anxious or inquisitive, we’ve come up with a duit raya guide to get you ready for the upcoming festive period.
Disclaimer: Everything you’re gonna read below is from opinions expressed by our Muslim colleagues and friends. Take it as a rough guide; everyone has their own personal and financial considerations and nothing we write below is set in stone. Also, do note that this article is all about the duit raya practices in Singapore; these differ elsewhere in the world.
What is duit raya?
When is duit raya given?
Who gives duit raya?
Who receives duit raya?
How much should I give for duit raya?
Are there duit raya amounts that should be avoided?
Should I give more duit raya because of the GST hike and inflation?
Where can I get green packets for duit raya?
It’s my first year giving duit raya! Any tips?
1. What is duit raya?
Duit raya translates to “Raya money”. Simply put, it’s money that Muslims put in green packets to give to (usually) children and elders during Syawal—the 10th month of the Islamic calendar. Syawal comes after Ramadan, the fasting month, and the first day of Syawal is Hari Raya Puasa.
Hari Raya Puasa is a time of celebration, so it follows that duit raya is given to spread joy and good cheer during this festive season. It’s also seen as a form of donation in line with Islamic values of charity and giving alms.
Some specially wait to give duit raya at the end of a visit, when visitors respectfully salam others goodbye. During the salam, they can also take the opportunity to seek forgiveness from one another, in turn strengthening ties between family members and friends.
So while money isn’t everything, this Raya money does play a pretty important role in spreading joy and reinforcing social bonds.
Image: Giphy / The Simpsons
2. When is duit raya given?
Duit raya is first given out on Hari Raya Puasa, which marks the end of the fasting month and the start of Syawal.
But similar to how Chinese ang baos can be given any day during the 15 days of Chinese New Year, duit raya can be given any day during the month of Syawal. There’s really no hard and fast rule to giving duit raya. I mean, who would reject free money, especially if it comes from a genuine place?
3. Who gives duit raya?
Once again, there’s no hard and fast rule. However, most Muslims we spoke to said that becoming a working adult is a telltale sign that your days of receiving duit raya are up. Now that you’ve got a salary coming in every month, it’s time to start prepping those green packets.
That said, we have to disclaim that every family is different. For example, we’ve also heard of some who only start giving duit raya after getting married. Others may not give a special duit raya green packet to their parents per se, and instead just give their parents a larger allowance for that month.
So if you read the stuff above and were thinking, “is my family weird?”, don’t sweat it! We’re just reporting what we found to be the most common in Singapore, but these certainly aren’t rules set in stone.
4. Who receives duit raya?
Who are the lucky ones whose bank accounts grow fatter with each Raya visit? Basically, children and elders. The general principle is that you give if you’re working, and receive if you aren’t.
When it comes to parents and their children, parents give duit raya to their kids up until a certain age. Once these children start working or are simply deemed adults by their parents, the giver and receiver roles are flipped. The child is now a working adult and gives duit raya to their folks.
This group of working adults also give duit raya to their grandparents, uncles, and aunties. Giving to their elders is a mark of respect, and at the same time asks elders for their blessings and requests that they keep them in their prayers.
Finally, working adults also give duit raya to children—young nieces/nephews/cousins/any blood relative/random kids at the house visit. So if you walk into a house and see a flood of little humans, oh boy—we hope your wallet is prepared.
5. How much should I give for duit raya?
Based on the Muslim friends and colleagues we asked, here’s a rough idea of duit raya rates in Singapore:
People receiving duit raya
Duit raya amount
$50 – $300
$50 – $100
Your children who aren’t working yet
Friends of your children who also aren’t working yet
Your younger siblings not working yet
$20 – $50
Kids who are blood relatives (e.g. nieces, nephews, cousins)
$2 – $50
Random people at the house you aren’t related to
$2 – $20
From those we spoke to, $2 for duit raya is on the low end these days. However, it really depends on different individuals’ budgets and income. At the heart of the practice of duit raya is the value of charity and giving how much you can. So you might be putting more or less money into your green envelopes, and that’s perfectly alright!
There are also other factors that go into deciding how much to put into a green packet. For example, you might give more duit raya to the elderly and those less well-off. Another consideration is familial ties—relatives closer to you would probably also get more than relatives far removed in your extended family.
You might also be wondering, do friends give duit raya to their peers? For example, say my university batch mate and I just graduated. He found a job almost immediately, while I’m still looking. Do I get duit raya from him?
Image: Giphy / The Chi
The response we got from asking around was a consistent (and hilarious) “I wish!”. So no, peers don’t seem to give each other duit raya—they’re all around the same life stage anyway.
6. Are there duit raya amounts that should be avoided?
The short answer is no. Any duit raya amounts are acceptable, and those we spoke to often just use a convenient note denomination like $5, $10 or $50.
There’s some reasoning behind this. Generally, Muslims are explicitly commanded to be non-superstitious; God is in control. So there’s no need to avoid certain “inauspicious” numbers.
7. Should I give more duit raya because of the GST hike and inflation?
Thanks to the GST hike and rising inflation, the cost of living in Singapore has gone up. That means the $2 duit raya you received as a kid is only enough for the kids these days to buy, er, not much.
Many of those we spoke to said that they adjust their duit raya amounts upwards as the cost of living rises. On the other hand, it’s also possible that less duit raya is given. If the giver is also affected by inflation and the GST hike, they wouldn’t be able to afford higher duit raya amounts and may even reduce it in order to still be able to give a green packet to every person.
8. Where can I get green packets for duit raya?
Money for duit raya is given in green packets—green for its association with paradise in Islam. But where does one get these green packets? There are basically 2 main options.
The first option is to get them for free from banks and stores. During Ramadan, banks, supermarkets and Muslim-owned shops start giving customers their own custom-printed green packets. Do note that there’s sometimes a minimum spend you have to hit to get these.
The second option is to buy your own green packets online or from physical shops. One advantage of this is that you get to choose the festive designs you want. These can be classy and elegant, or super cute. For example, I took a quick look around Shopee and Carousell and saw some green packets with “meow Raya” cat designs!
9. It’s my first year giving duit raya! Any tips?
The first thing you should do is prepare green packets with small denominations, such as $4, $5 or $10. When you’re visiting and see some random kids you aren’t related to and maybe don’t even know, you can quickly whip out one of these.
Another pro tip: Label your green packets! It would be pretty disastrous to accidentally swap your mother’s $100 green packet with your distant niece’s $10 one. Well, maybe not disastrous for your niece, but you might end up having to pull out another $90 that you can barely afford for your mother.
Image: Giphy / Friends
To avoid mixing up amounts, just grab a pen and write a name or initial on the green packet.
Our last tip has to come with a disclaimer: Check first if your elders are going to be ok with the lack of a physical green packet and physical money. I mean, this isn’t very traditional after all. But if they are alright with it, send your duit raya digitally. Not only is this more sustainable, but you might also receive cashback!
For example, from now till 15 May 2023, DBS is giving $18 cashback to the first 500 PayLah! customers with the most number of qualifying QR Gift Cards/eGifts transactions. What counts as one transaction? Either you send someone a QR Gift Card/eGift (and they actually open it), or you receive a QR Gift Card/eGift yourself. Just note that the sender and receiver each get one count for that sender/receiver pairing—so don’t bother sending eGifts back and forth to try to boost your chances.
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