Eid ul Fitr – The Beginning of the Celebration
Eid ul Fitr or the festival of fast breaking marks the end of Ramadan which is the Islamic holy month of fasting. Eid commemorates the end of thirty days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the entire month of Ramadan. The first day of the Eid falls on the first day of the Shawwal month of the Hijri year (Islamic calendar). The term ‘Eid’ has been derived from the Arabic word ‘oud’, which means ‘the return’ and thus signifies the return of the festival each year. It is the most celebratory of the Muslim festivals and possesses immense religious significance.
The month of Ramadan is historically associated with two important victories – the conquest of Makkah and the battle of Badr. According to Islamic beliefs, fasting during the month of Ramadam helps one to get closer to God and in developing better self-control. Eid ul Fitr marks the end of this fast and the beginning of celebration for three days. According to legends, Prophet Mohammad had laid down Eid ul Fitr as days of feasting and rejoicing for the entire Muslim community. It is believed that fasting during the month of Ramadan with absolute faith will help absolve from the past accumulated sins. Another aspect of the Eid ul Fitr lies in the charity on that day. Every Muslims need to donate a sum towards the poor section of the Muslim population refer to as ‘Zakt-al-Fitr’. It can be donated either in the form of cash or basic foodstuffs like wheat, barley, raisins and dates. The festival fosters interactions and brotherhood towards each other. People visit each others house on this day. People greet each other with gifts and sweets. Some even visit the graveyard to pay homage to the departed souls.
Eid ul Fitr Customs
On the morning the Muslims take bath and have their breakfast that typically comprises of dates and sweets. They wear new clothes and visit the mosque to worship Allah where special Eid ul Fitr prayer is carried out in open areas. They recite ‘Takbir’, a poem in the praise of Allah. The donation for the month of Ramadan is given at a nearby mosque and then the prayer is started. After the prayer people greet each other with ‘Eid Mubarak’(Happy Eid) and return back to home for feast. Women pray at home and cook special delicacies for the festival. They adorn themselves with new clothes and sometimes even flock the market to buy colorful bangles and get their hands tattooed with henna.
Eid ul Fitr Gifts
Gifts hold a special importance in the festival of Eid ul Fitr. Daughters and married sisters are given special gifts. Brothers pay a visit to their married sisters and take sivai, a special dish made for the occasion, along with clothes, bangles and money. Children are also given gifts in the form of money, known as eiddi.
Celebration of Eid ul Fitr World Wide
Eid ul Fitr is celebrated world wide with much religious zeal and observance. In South Asian countries such as India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, celebration starts a day before the actual festive day. The night before the Eid is known as ‘Chand Raat’ and stands for the moght of moon. Exchange of gifts is a common ritual every where. In the South East Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei the festival of Eid ul Fitr is known as ‘Hari Raya Aidilfitri’, ‘Hari Raya Idul Fitri’, ‘Hari Otak’ or ‘Hari Raya Puasa’. It is one of the biggest festivals and a official holiday in South East Asia. In Indonesia and Malaysia, people visit their home town from the metropolitan cities. This is known as ‘Balik Kampung’ or ‘Pulang Kampong’, meaning return back to home to celebrate Eid with family members. Various types of Indo-Malay delicacies are served on the dining table for the occasion of Eid. In United Kingdom, Eid starts with Imam (the superior head of the community) giving advice to the entire community for healthy living. Though the day is not a recognized public holiday, Muslims gather in a open space for morning prayers. In North America Eid ul Fitr is celebrated on different days on the eastern and western side of the continent. In Middle East, Eid ul Fitr is the most awaited festival of the year. The celebration is infused with national tradition.