The Hari Raya Bazaar at Geylang Serai is one of the most anticipated bazaars of the year.
The event, held in conjunction with the month of Ramadan, offers stalls packed with eye-catching and mouth-watering food along with other decorative items like traditional clothes and rugs.
With crowds flocking to the bazaar every year without fail, there have been concerns raised about rising rent and too many stalls selling “hipster” food.
Rentals capped at S$14,000
The rental of stalls at the bazaar rose wildly over the past couple of years.
In 2014, it cost operators about S$10,000 to rent a 2.7m by 2.7m food stall in the bazaar, but in 2018, that figure had doubled to $20,000, The Straits Times reported in May 2018.
This year, rentals will be capped at S$14,000.
The Straits Times reported the Mayor of South East District Dr Maliki Osman announcing the rental cap on Thursday (March 28).
Dr Maliki, who is also Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs said: “Because it is sizably less than last year’s rental, we really hope it will translate to reasonable pricing of the goods being sold.”
The total area occupied by the bazaar this year will be slightly reduced from last year – but the new site facilitates bigger walkways and greater space between stalls, with dining areas for visitors to sit and mingle, and for Muslim visitors to break fast together.
60 per cent of food stalls to sell traditional Malay items
Stall operators are not the only ones who have rising concerns with the popular bazaar.
While Singaporeans love unique food that one can boast about on their Instagram – some think that the bazaar may have taken it too far.
The Straits Times reported that the Wisma Geylang Serai, a Malay-Muslim social and cultural heritage hub organising the event, had received feedback from visitors that last year’s bazaar featured many stalls selling “hipster” food.
Following the feedback, Wisma Geylang Serai announced that most stalls at this year’s bazaar will sell traditional Hari Raya goods related to the Malay culture.
Dr Maliki told The Straits Times that visitors want “that nostalgic feeling”.
60 per cent of the food stalls, and 80 per cent of the non-food stalls, will focus on traditional Malay items, said the organisers.
The rest of the stalls will continue to serve up contemporary, hipster favourites.
The bazaar’s organisers said all food stalls operating at the bazaar must be either Muslim-owned or certified halal by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis).
This year’s bazaar will run from May 3 to June 5 and have between 500 to 700 stalls set up in areas surrounding Wisma Geylang Serai, with some stalls stretching to areas around Geylang Road as well.
The Straits Times reported that the bazaar drew 1.86 million visitors last year, mostly locals.
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