This stretch of Bussorah Street near Masjid
Sultan was once known as Kampong Kaji (Pilgrim Village), kaji being the Javanese pronunciation of haji (pilgrim) as there were many Javanese living here. Until the mid-1970s, Singapore was the pilgrim hub in Southeast Asia, and pilgrims from nearby countries – in particular, Indonesia due to Dutch restrictions on the pilgrimage – would come to Singapore and stay at Bussorah Street while waiting for the kapal haj (pilgrim ship).
Here, a whole array of services was available. Bussorah Street was reputed for its sheikh hajis (pious men known in the community for their knowledge of the haj) who would prepare the pilgrims for their journey. When the time came for their departure, prayers were usually held at Masjid Sultan and there would be a huge send-off. Although air travel has since replaced the ship as the main mode of transportation to Jeddah, former residents continue to call Bussorah Street “Kampong Kaji” today.