|Racial Harmony Day
|Commemorates the 1964 racial riots
|21 July 2024
Racial Harmony Day is a day in Singapore to promote racial and ethnic harmony within the nation. It is observed on 21 July every year, with most activities organised by schools and grassroot organisations, including religious groups.
First launched in 1997 by the Ministry of Education in schools, the event commemorates the 1964 race riots which took place on 21 July 1964 when Singapore was still part of Malaysia (1963–1965) – 22 people lost their lives and hundreds were severely injured. There were numerous other communal riots and incidents throughout the 50s and 60s leading to and after Singapore's independence in August 1965.
On this day, students in schools across the nation are encouraged to be dressed in other cultures' traditional costumes such as the Cheongsam, the Baju Kurung and Saree. Traditional delicacies are a feature of the celebration. Traditional games such as five stones, zero points, and hopscotch are played, where inter-class competitions are sometimes organised. Some activities introduced by schools include designing Kolams and Maruthani and Henna hand painting.
In 2004 Harmony Night was launched jointly by the CDCs as well as Representative of the Main Religious Organisations in Singapore. The organisation of Harmony Night was led by the Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society.The organising committee included The Chinese Development Assistance Council, Mendaki Singapore (Council for the Development of Singapore Malay/Muslim Community), Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA) and the Eurasian Association Singapore.
The planning committee was chaired and co-chaired by Mr Lee Kim Siang and Dr Lee respectively and included representatives from CDAC, MENDAKI, SINDA and EA.
The 1st show which was launched in July 2004 and continued annually till 2007
was initially produced by Boni de Souza music producer-arranger from De Souza et Cie Pte Ltd (formerly aka Savoir Faire Pte Ltd) he was engaged in his professional capacity by the Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society through notable radio show host Brian Richmond. Boni de Souza also wrote the 1st Theme song - an original composition "a Place in our Hearts" whose theme was Racial and Religious Harmony and arranged the show program as well as the music and conducted the 25 member Orchestra. The theme song was recorded and produced as a CD to be given to the guests. (Available now on itunes and spotify) . The Premiere was launched as a dinner cum show for 5000 guests at the Singapore EXPO on 2 consecutive evenings in July 2004. Guests of Honour were the then President of Singapore the Late Mr SR Nathan and Mrs Nathan and many Members of Parliament. In the Straits Times review the following day the event was deemed a huge success and very well received by all who attended.
The event is an annual racial community effort to strengthen ties among Singaporeans of different ethnic communities to get together and celebrate diversity.
Schools are also encouraged to recite a Declaration of Religious Harmony during the celebrations. In the week of 21 July, representatives from the Inter-Religious Harmony Circle (IRHC) comprising various religious groups also get together to pledge their support and to promote the Declaration.