Edi-Ul-Fitr in 2013 – August 9
Eid-Ul-Fitr, or Eid as it is often shortened, is without a doubt the most highly-anticipated of Muslim festivals. And it’s not just the Muslims who look forward to it! Anyone who has ever partaken of the fare and joined in the festivities of Eid cannot wait for it to arrive each year.
Eid-Ul-Fitr – Eid
Eid-Ul-Fitr means the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast. During the month of Ramadan which precedes Eid, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, breaking their fast after the sun goes down. They also abstain from sex and smoking. This day-time fasting continues for the whole month. Eid marks the end of that fasting period.
Many non-Western religions do not have a fixed date on the Roman calendar and are instead determined on the basis of the individual calendars of a particular religion or the rising and setting of the sun or moon in a particular part of the world (considered holy by that religion). It is the same for the joyous festival of Eid. Eid falls somewhere around August in the Roman calendar. It marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, the ninth month in the Muslim calendar, and the first day of the next month Shawwal.
But Eid isn’t just a one day affair. After all, something as celebratory as a breaking of the fast after a whole month can hardly be expected to be complete in just 24 hours. Eid lasts for three whole days, with all three days dedicated to family, charity, food, celebration and prayer.
The night before Eid is spent in celebration mode too. The family will usually step out to buy gifts that will be distributed over the next three days. The most popular gift is new clothes. But toys are also high on the shopping list as it is common to give gifts to children during the holiday. Special sweets that are made only during Eid will also usually be purchased at this time if they are not goin to be prepared at home.
Although not a tradition, several girls will apply mehendi the day before Eid. Unmarried women will generally go all-out with their Eid ensembles donning colorful clothes and several colorful bangles. Any remaining shopping for these ensembles will also be completed the day before Eid.
What Happens on Eid-Ul-Fitr
The day starts really early, for one thing. The whole family wakes up well before sunrise and heads to the mosque. There, a priest will talk about the significance of the holiday and will then lead the people in prayer.
After prayers, people will stay on at the mosque for a little while, greeting each other, catching up with close friends and extended family. Children enjoy this part the most since they usually receive gifts from people they meet on this day. Some people will visit graveyards to pay their respects to long-departed relatives.
Then people hurry on home to prepare for guests since this is a popular time to pay visits and guests will trickle in and out of the house all day. The door is usually just left open!
Midst all the guests, cooking and eating, calls will be made to families settled abroad or in different cities to wish them as well as to catch up on the latest gossip.
That’s pretty much how all three days will go. However, in some places only the first day is celebrated as Eid in a big way while the other two will see people go partially back to their routines. In Muslim countries, the three days of Eid are a national holiday and all three days are celebrated with as much vigour as the first.
Charity is also considered a part of Eid. Families set aside raw food like rice and pulses to give those less fortunate. It is called sadagah al-iftr which means to give to those who don’t have on the day of the breaking of the fast. This is done so that everyone can be a part of the celebration no matter what their economic background.
As mentioned earlier, it’s not just the Mulsims who enjoy Eid-Ul-Fitr. Many places that serve special dishes that are made only during Eid will see a huge demand for the delicacies from customers of all religions and backgrounds. Whether it’s the ever-popular sheera, the mouth-watering haleem or the tons and tons of mutton dishes that are cooked on this day, rich, poor, men, women and kids of all ages dig in with gusto.
Image: Indian Photo Agency