Eid-al-Fitr marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
Eid al-Fitr also known as Meethi Eid is a major Muslim festival and is celebrated across the world on the first day of Shawwal, in the tenth month of the Islamic calendar (Hijri). Eid-al-Fitr also marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. It is the festival of breaking the fast of Ramdan. The holiday celebrates the conclusion of the 29 or 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the entire month of Ramadan.
Significance of Eid al-Fitr:
Muslims observe strict fast called 'Rozah' from sunrise to sunset each day during Ramadan. They practice absolute abstinence during the month of Ramadan and dedicate most of their time in the devotion of Allah and his teachings. During this period they are abstain from all kind of worldly pleasure. The date for the start of any lunar Hijri month varies based on when the new moon is sighted by local religious authorities. So the exact day of celebration varies by locality.
Eid al-Fitr was originated by the Islamic prophet Muhammad and were initiated in Medina after the migration of Muhammad from Mecca. When the Prophet arrived in Madinah, he found people celebrating two specific days in which they used to entertain themselves with recreation and merriment. After enquiring them about the nature of these festivities, he came to know that these days were occasions of fun and recreation. On this, the Prophet remarked that the Almighty has fixed two days of festivity which he termed as Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.
Celebration of Eid al-Fitr:
After a month long discipline and restraint on Ramadan, Muslims celebrate the day of Eid al-Fitr
, that begin with the early morning bath followed by the first prayer of the day called Salat al-Fazr also called Morning Prayer. Then the whole family wear new clothes and jewellery and eats something sweet, traditionally dates. As Eid prayers must be performed in congregation, the male person of the house go to the Eid prayer venue, Eidgah, where the whole community perform Eid prayers together. The females can either stay at home to offer their prayers or can join the congregation.
Eid al-Fitr has a particular salat or Islamic prayer consisting of two rakats or units. It is generally offered in an open field or large hall. It may be performed only in congregation and has an additional extra six Takbirs that is raising of the hands to the ears while saying "Allahu Akbar" which means "God is the greatest". Eid greetings are exchanged as 'Eid-Mubarak' and embrace each other signifying love and mutual brotherhood after the prayer. Women adorn their hands with Henna for the occasion. A sum of money called Eidi is given to children as part of Eid gift.
It is also called Meethi Eid in India and other South Asian countries as mainly sweet dishes are prepared for on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr. Seviyan which is made by boiling wheat noodles with milk and is served hot or cold garnished with dried fruits is the main delicacy of Eid al-Fitr. Kheer, Phirni, Halwa, Gulab Jamun, Malai Kulfi, and Ras-Malai are some of the other dishes prepared on this occasion. The Eid festivities can continue up to three days.
Charity is one important aspect of Eid in Islam. On this day muslims are encouraged to make some donations either in form of money or food and clothes. Zakat al-Fitr is an obligatory form of charity given to poor and traditionally it is given at the end of Ramadan and before people go for Eid prayers. On this occasion, they give a portion of their annual savings as the tax to poor or needy. In some countries Zakat is voluntary, while in other countries it is mandatory and is collected by the state.
Eid prayer and eidgah:
The Eid prayer is performed in congregation in open areas like fields, community centres, etc. or at mosques. No call to prayer is given for this Eid prayer. Eid Prayer consists of only two units of prayer with an additional six Takbirs. The Eid prayer is followed by the sermon and then a supplication asking for Allah's forgiveness, mercy, peace and blessings for all living beings across the world. The sermon also instructs Muslims as to the performance of rituals of Eid, such as the zakat. Listening to the sermon at Eid is not required and is optional, a Sunnah i.e. while the sermon is being delivered. After the prayers, Muslims visit their relatives and friends. They hold large communal celebrations in homes, community centres or rented halls.
It is a custom to give Eid gifts, known as Eidi to children and immediate relatives.
The Prayer of Eid al-Fitr is performed in two different ways by Sunni and Shia Islam.
Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and expresses many of the basic values of the Muslim community, such as empathy for the poor, charity, worship, steadfastness, patience etc. Fasting teaches a Muslim to stay away from worldly desires and to focus entirely on the Lord and thank Him for his blessings. The festival is a rejuvenation of the religion and it creates a stronger bond between the Muslim and his Lord. Celebration of Eid al-Fitr varies country to country.
In Saudi Arabia, Eid al-Fitr is celebrated with great enthusiasm. The celebration may vary culturally depending on the region. However, the common thread in all celebrations is of generosity and hospitality. On the day of Eid, families gather at the patriarchal home after the Eid prayers and young children will line up in front of each adult family member, who gives money as gifts or gift bags to the children.
It is traditional for Saudi men to go and buy large quantities of rice and other staples, and then leave them anonymously at the doors of those who are less fortunate. After the Eid prayer, people in some areas of the middle of Saudi Arabia such as Al Qassim host large communal meals. Celebrants put large rugs on one of the streets of their neighborhood, and households prepare a large meal to be shared by all neighbors. There are huge fireworks shows every night during the festival in the major cities of Saudi Arabia.
Iranian Muslims celebrate the first day of the month of Shawwal as the Eid al-Fitr. There are usually one or two days as a national holiday marking the celebration.
The Eid al-Fitr special prayer generally takes place in an open field or a large hall with a congregation in attendance, and the participant pay the Zakat al-Fitr. The Eid al-Fitr prayer has been led by Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran at Tehran's Imam Khomeini Grand Prayer Grounds (Mossalla) and he delivers the sermon after the prayer.
In Turkey, celebrated holidays are referred to as bayram, and Eid al-Fitr is referred to as both Seker Bayramı ("Bayram of Sweets") and Ramazan Bayramı ("Ramadan Bayram"). It is a public holiday, where schools and government offices are generally closed for the entire three-day period of the celebrations. It is customary for people to greet one another with "May your bayram be blessed". On this festival, people attend prayer services, put on their best clothes, visit all their relatives, neighbours, and friends. They also pay their respects to the deceased with organised visits to cemeteries, where large, temporary bazaars of flowers, water, and prayer books are set up for the three-day occasion.
The first day of the bayram is generally regarded as the most important. On this day all members of the family waking up early, and the men goes to their neighbourhood mosques for the special bayram prayer. It is regarded as especially important to honour elderly citizens by kissing their right hand and placing it on one's forehead while wishing them bayram greetings. It is also customary for young children to go around their neighbourhood, door to door, and wish everyone a "Happy Bayram", for which they are awarded candy, chocolates, traditional sweets such as baklava and Turkish Delight, or a small amount of money at every door.
Eid al-Fitr is a three-day feast and an official holiday in Egypt. All the schools, universities and government offices are closed on these days including some stores and restaurants. The Eid day starts with a small snack followed by Eid prayers in congregation attended by men, women, and children. During the prayer the sermon reminds Egyptians of the virtues and good deeds they should do for others during Eid and throughout the year. Afterwards, neighbors, friends, and relatives start greeting one another. The most common greeting is "Eid Mubarak" (Blessed Eid). Family visits are considered a must on the first day of the Eid. So on the other two days they enjoy by going to parks, cinemas, theatres or the beaches.
Sharm El Sheikh is considered as a favorite spot for spending holidays in Egypt. Children are normally given new clothes to wear throughout the Eid. Also, women are given special gifts by their loved ones. It is customary for children to also receive a Eid-ey-yah from their adult relatives. This is a small sum of money that the children receive and is used to spend on all their activities throughout the Eid.
The families gatherings involve cooking and eating all kinds of Egyptian food like Fata. But the items most associated with Eid al-Fitr are Kahk, which are cookies filled with nuts and covered with powdered sugar. Egyptians either bake it at home or buy it in the bakery.
In Tunisia, there is three days of celebration, with only 2 days as a national holiday. The preparations start several days earlier. Special biscuits are made to give to friends and relatives on the day, including Baklawa and several kinds of "ka'ak".
On the day of Eid, men will go to the mosque early in the morning, while the women will either go with them or stay in and prepare for the celebration by putting together new outfits and toys for their children. A big family lunch generally held at one of the parents' homes. During the daylight hours, there may be dancing and music, but the feasting lasts all day long. Receiving gifts are a large part of tradition.
Also, food is the centre of this holiday. Different members of a family visit each other. Usually, children accompany their father and visit aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends to wish them on the Eid for which they will be offered drinks and special cookies. Women will stay at home with some of the children in order to welcome members of the family that come to visit and congratulate for the end of the fasting.
In Somalia, Eid al-Fitr is observed by the Muslim communities where celebrations typically accompanied by elaborate banquets. Special dishes such as xalwo (halwo) and buskut (buskuit) are served.
The festival of Eid al-Fitr is celebrated by first attending the mosque in the morning for Eid prayer. This is followed by visiting relatives and neighbours. Children receive presents and money from elder members of the family, relatives and neighbours. Most people wear new clothes with bright colours, while biscuits, cakes, samosas, pies and tarts are presented to visitors as treats. Lunch is usually served in family groups. It is also customary to exchange gifts.
In the evening of the last day of Ramadan, each year hundreds of Muslims will gather at Green Point in Cape Town for the sighting of the moon. People from all walks of life gather together, and everyone comes with something to share with others at the time of breaking the fast. The Maghrib (sunset) prayer is then performed in congregation and the formal moon-sighting results are announced thereafter.
In Afghanistan, Eid al-Fitr holds significant importance and is celebrated widely for three days. The most common greeting is Eid Mubarak. This Eid among the Pashto-speaking community is called Kochnai Akhtar. Afghans start preparing for the Eid al-Fitr festival up to ten days prior by cleaning up their homes. The practice is called Khana Takani in Dari. The celebration is similar and include all the custom of the festival.
In Pakistan, Eid al-Fitr is also referred to as both Meethi Eid ("Sweet Eid") and Choti Eid ("Small Eid"). On the day of Eid al-Fitr, people wear new clothes to get ready for Eid prayer. People are supposed to give obligatory charity on behalf of each of their family member to the needy or poor before Eid day or at least before Eid prayer.
There is three days' national holiday for Eid celebration. People gather at large open areas like sports grounds, parks or large open area for Eid prayer. After Eid Salat people meet and greet each other with traditional hug of friendship and the greeting "Eid Mubarak". Before going home people give charity to needy and the poor, so that everybody will be able to enjoy the day.
On their way home, they buy sweets, gas balloons for kids, and gifts for the family. At home family members enjoy special Eid breakfast with various types of sweets and desserts, including traditional dessert sheer khurma, which is made of vermicelli, milk, butter, dry fruits and dates, etc. Eid is mainly enjoyed by the kids, as they mostly receive money in cash called "Eidi" as gift by every elder in the family and relatives when they visit their places. On Eid day kids are allowed to spend their gift money (Eidi) as they want.
Celebrations in India and the rest of the Indian subcontinent share many similarities with regional variations. This is because a large part of the Indian subcontinent was ruled as one nation during the days of the Mughal Empire and British Raj. The night before Eid is called Chaand Raat, which means, "Night of the Moon". Muslims in these countries will often do Eid shopping with their families. Women, especially younger girls, often apply the traditional Mehndi, or henna, on their hands and feet and wear colorful bangles.
The traditional Eid greeting is Eid Mubarak, and it is frequently followed by a formal hug. New clothes are part of the tradition and it is also common for children to be given small sums of money (Eidi) by their elders. After the Eid prayers, it is common for some families to visit graveyards and pray for the salvation of departed family members. It is also common to visit neighbors, family members, friends and to get together to share sweets, snacks and special meals including some special dishes that are prepared specifically on Eid.