A festival of sweets and prayers
Festivals are delightful traditions in any faith as they remind us to take time out from our hectic lives and focus on issues beneficial to us and also the people around us. Eid is an Arabic word meaning ‘festivity’, while Fitr means ‘to break the fast’ and hence the celebration symbolizes the breaking of the fasting period.
Eid-ul-Fitr is one of the two major festivals in the Islamic calendar. The celebration of Eid-ul-fitr starts with the beginning of the Islamic month of Shawwal, which is the 10th month of the lunar Islamic calendar and the end of the Islamic holy month, Ramadan. It is a time to bestow charity on those in need and celebrate with family and friends, the completion of a month filled with blessings and joy. It is not possible to predict the date of Eid-ul-Fitr, accurately.
The sight of the crescent moon marks the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Eid celebrations. The new moon may be sighted earlier or later in specific locations. Therefore, many Muslims residing in different countries, for example in USA and Canada, sometimes begin the celebrations on different dates.
Charity is the core of Ramadan and Eid, when each Muslim family gives a determined amount as a donation to the poor. This donation is in terms of food like, rice, barley, dates among others, to ensure that the needy can have a full meal and participate in the celebration.
“At the end of Ramadan we pay Zakat al-Fitr (special fast breaking alms) as a token of thankfulness to God for enabling him or her to observe the obligatory fast,” said Saba Siddiqui. Eid ul-Fitr is sometimes called the ‘Sweet Holiday,’ since desserts are usually taken, celebrating the end of the Ramadan fasting. People buy variety of items which includes gifts, sweets, food items and other things before Eid. Buying new clothes for Eid is a prevalent tradition, and those who can't afford it, make an effort to look their best.
On the night before Eid, female members decorate their hands with henna and are encouraged to dress in their best clothes for the occasion. This festival has a feeling of brotherhood and everyone celebrates it by hugging each other on this day regardless of caste or creed. This festival is not only enjoyed by Muslims but also by the Non-Muslims.
“We get dressed and go to our Muslim friend’s place. Over there, we get to eat mouth-watering Biryanis and Sewiahs,” says Siddhant Pal.
Muslims are not allowed to fast on Eid ul-Fitr, since they are celebrating the end of fasting. Eating food before attending the prayer is encouraged. Special Eid prayers are held in the early morning of the holiday, usually at a large central mosque, an open field, or a stadium. After the prayer is completed, worshippers embrace each other and say ‘Eid Mubarak,’ or ‘Blessed Eid,’ to wish each other goodwill. It is customary to give money to children, cousins, nieces, nephews (termed Eidi).
After the Eid prayers, families often visit their neighbouring houses and extended relatives to wish them a happy holiday and exchange gifts.