Eid ul Fitr is only weeks away. An important Muslim holiday, Eid ul Fitr is celebrated all around the world. However, each country has its own traditions and practices on this day.
For example, in South Asia Muslims celebrate the sighting of the new moon on the night before Eid, called Chaand Raat. People visit bazaars and malls with their families for last minute Eid shopping. Women paint their hands with mehndi and wear colorful bangles. The popular way for greeting each other on this joyous day is to say Eid Mubarak to others. Children, who are encouraged to greet elders, receive money called Eidi in exchange. On the morning of Eid ul Fitr, every Muslim is encouraged to wear new clothes if possible. Men and boys go to a mosque or open fields called Eidgah for Eid prayers. The Muslims are ordained to pay Fitra to the poor before the prayer so that they can also join in the celebrations. After the prayers, the congregation is dispersed as people greet each other. Some Muslims visit graveyards to pray for the salvation of the departed souls. One of the specials Eid dishes, usually eaten for breakfast, is called sevyaan. It consists of fine, toasted vermicelli noodles that that are cooked and then eaten either by themselves or dipped in milk in a dish called sheer khurmo. In Bangladesh the vermicelli is called shemai and is an integral Eid item. Eid in South Asia is very festive as Muslims thank the Almighty.
In the United Kingdom, there is usually a bayan (speech) where the Muslim community is advised and encouraged to end their past animosities. Then there is a khutba and the prayer itself. Since Eid ul Fitr is not recognised as a public holiday in the UK, Muslims are obliged to attend the morning prayer. In a large Muslim areas, schools and local businesses give exemptions to the Muslim community to take one day off. In the rest of the UK it is not recognised because it is not on a fixed date and is decided by the sighting of the moon on the night before.
North American Muslims typically celebrate the day in a quiet way. Since the day depends on the sighting of the moon, people are not usually aware that the next day will be Eid until the night before. Most check with members of the community to see if the moon has been sighted by anyone. North Americans on the eastern coast of the continent may celebrate Eid on a different day than those on the western coast. Prophet Muhammad stated that Muslims should fast when they sight the moon and break fast when they sight the moon, which means Eid. Typically, the end of Ramadan is announced via e-mail, postings on websites, or chain phone calls to all members of a Muslim community. Most Muslims in the west dress in their traditional clothing and attend congregational Eid prayers at their local mosque, arena, or stadium. After the prayer there is a Khutba (speech) in which the Muslim community is given advice. After the Eid prayer many people call friends and family from all over the world wishing them a Happy Eid or Eid Mubarak. The rest of Eid is spent with close family and friends. Depending on their community some Muslims have open-house parties during the day in which people exchange gifts, and wish family friends a blessed Eid. Because North American Muslims come from all parts of the world, one particular type of food cannot be identified as served on this day. Many Muslim North American families visit the homes of others to congregate on a day of celebration. October 12-14, 2007 New York’s Empire State Building was lit in green in honor of Eid ul Fitr.
In the Republic of Turkey Ramadan celebrations are infused with national traditions and country wide celebrations, both religious and secular, are referred to as Bayram. It is customary to greet one another with “Bayramınız Kutlu Olsun” (”May Your Bayram Be Celebrated”), “Mutlu Bayramlar” (”Happy Bayram”), or the more quaint “Bayramınız Mübarek Olsun” (May Your Bayram Be Holy.” People wear their best clothes referred to as Bayramlık as they visit their loved ones and pay their respects to the deceased with organized visits to cemeteries where large, temporary bazaars of flowers and water for adorning graves and prayer books are set up for the three day occasion. It’s very important to honor the elderly on this day by kissing their right hand and placing it one one’s forehead while wishing them Bayram greetings. Young children, customarily, go around their neighborhood from door to door wishing everyone a happy Bayram. They are awarded candy, chocolates, baklava, and Turkish Delights or a small amount of money. Municipalities around the country organize fundraising events for the poor in addition to public shows such as concerts or more traditional forms of entertainment like Karagoz and Hacivat shadow theatre. Performances also include Mehter, the Janissary Band that was found during the days of the Ottoman Empire. Helping the less fortunate, ending past animosities and making up, organizing breakfasts and dinners for loved ones and putting together neighborhood celebrations are all part of the joyous occasion, where homes and streets are decorated and lit up for the celebrations, and television and radio channels continuously broadcast a variety of special Bayram programs, which include movie specials, musical programming, and addresses from celebrities and politicians alike.
Eid is a highly personal event and celebrations are often more muted. It is called Eyde Fetr by most Iranians. Charity is important on this day. Eid prayers are held in every mosque and public places. It is also very common to visit the elderly and gather with families and friends. Each family gives food to those in need. Payment of fitra or fetriye is obligatory for each Muslim.
In Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei, Eid is commonly known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri or Hari Raya Puasa. Hari Raya means Grand Day. Eid is the biggest holiday in Malaysia and is the most awaited one. Malls and bazaars are filled with people days ahead causing a festive atmosphere. Many banks, government, and private offices are closed for this holiday which usually lasts a week! In many parts of Malaysia pelita or panjut (oil lamps) are lit up. Eid also witnesses a huge migratory pattern of Muslims from metropolitan to rural areas. This is known as balik kampung which means going back to home town to celebrate Eid with one’s parents. Special dishes like ketupat, dodol, lemang (a type of glutinous rice cake cooked in bamboo) and other Malay delicacies are served during this day. It is common to greet people with “Selamat Hari Raya” or “Salam Aidilfitri” which means “Happy Eid”. Muslims also greet one another with “maaf zahir dan batin” which means “Forgive my physical and emotional (wrongdoings)”, because Eid ul-Fitr is not only for celebrations but also the time for Muslims to cleanse their sins and strengthen their ties with relatives and friends. It is customary for Malays to wear traditional Malay cultural outfit on the Eid. The outfit for men is called baju melayu which is worn together with kain samping (made of songket) and songkok (a dark colored headgear) while the women’s are known as baju kurung and baju kebaya. It is also common to see non-Malay Muslims wear costumes of their culture. Once the prayer is completed, it is also common for Muslims in Malaysia to visit the graves of loved ones. The rest of the day is spent visiting relatives or serving visitors. Eid ul-Fitr is a very joyous day for children for on this day adults are especially generous. Children will be given token sums of money, also known as “duit raya,” from their parents or elders. In Indonesia there is a special ritual called halal bi-halal. During this, Indonesians visit their elders, in the family, the neighborhood, or their work, and show respect to them. They will also seek reconciliation (if needed), and preserve or restore harmonious relations.
Philippines, with a majority Christian population, has recognized Eid ul-Fitr as a holiday by virtue of Republic Act No. 9177 and signed on November 13, 2002. The law was enacted in deference to the Filipino Muslim community and to promote peace among major religions in the Philippines. The first public holiday was set on December 6, 2002. Many non-Muslim Filipinos are still unfamiliar to the new holiday, and many calendars in the Philippines don’t have this holiday listed.
In China, Eid ul-Fitr is celebrated by 10 ethnic groups that practice Islam which amount to 18 million of the total population according to official statistics. It is a public holiday certain regions. In the Yunnan province Muslims are spread throughout the region. On Eid ul-Fitr, however, they travel to Sayyid Ajjal’sgrave, after their communal prayers. First there are readings from the Qur’an, then the tomb is cleaned (eminiscent of the historic annual Chinese Qingming festival in which people go their ancestors’ graves, sweep and clean the area and then make food offerings). Finally the accomplishments of the Sayyid Ajjal are told. In conclusion, a special service is held to honor the hundreds of thousands of Muslims killed during the Qing Dynasty, and the hundreds killed during the Cultural Revolution.
[photo credits: islamicnews.org, daylife.com, rediff.com]
Tags: bangladesh, bayan, chaand raat, chinese muslims, eid, eid mubarak, eid ul fitr, empire state building, filipino muslims, fitra, mosque, muslim, muslim holiday, north america, sevyaan, shemai, south asian muslims, united kingdom, vermicelli