Worldwide Eid ul Fitr Celebrations
South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka & Pakistan)
Eid ul Fitr is celebrated with much fervor and zest in South Asian countries, such as Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Celebrations start a day before the actual festive day. Women flock the market to buy colorful bangles and get their hands tattooed with henna. The night before Eid is called Chand Raat in these countries, which stand for the might of the moon. Traditionally, on Eid, people embrace or hug each other, reciting the phrase ‘Eid Mubarak’. Exchange of gifts and money (Eidi) is practiced by people at large.
Everyone, right from kids to adults, indulge in offering Eid prayers on Id-ul-Fitr. People are also seen visiting the graveyards to pray for the salvation of departed family members. Some of them are also observed distributing Zakat, the Islamic obligatory alms tax on the wealth, to the needy. While talking about celebration, how can food be far behind? Special celebratory dishes are prepared on this day. Sevaiyyan, a dish of fine, toasted sweet vermicelli noodles with milk & dried fruit, is one of the most popular delicacies prepared on this day.
Countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei celebrate the festival of Eid with great pomp and show. The festival is known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Hari Otak, Hari Raya Idul Fitri or Hari Raya Puasa. Eid is the biggest festival in the Southeast Asia. Days before the festival, the markets are adorned and filled with an assortment of goodies, giving a characteristic feel of the approaching festival. Banks government offices and private organizations are all closed on the day of celebration.
On the night before the main day, Eid is celebrated with the takbir, which is held in the mosques or musallas. In Indonesia and Malaysia, people are seen flocking to their hometowns from big metropolitan cities. Better known as Balik Kampung or Pulang Kampong, this ritual literally means going back to home, to celebrate Eid with family members. Luscious dishes, like ketupat, dodol, lemang (a type of glutinous rice cake cooked in bamboo) and other Indo-Malay delicacies, feature the dinning table on the occasion of Eid.
People greet everyone with wishes and blessings. They are seen embracing one another by saying ‘Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri’ or ‘Salam Aidilfitri’, which means ‘Happy Eid’. Muslims are also seen reciting ‘maaf lahir dan batin’, which is a way to ask for forgiveness for the physical and emotional wrongdoings. They consider Eid ul Fitr as an opportunity to cleanse their sins and strengthen their ties with relatives and friends. Children are the most excited lot, as they wait for ‘duit raya’ i.e. token of money from their elders.
In United Kingdom, Eid ul Fitr starts with the Imam giving advice to the Muslim community for living a healthy and soulful life. He then recites his speech, also called Khutbah, and the prayer. Once the local imam declares Eid ul Fitr, everyone greets and hugs each other. Though the day is not a recognized public holiday, Muslims are obliged to attend the morning prayers. After attending the morning prayers, they are also seen going to the cemetery, to pay homage to their ancestors. Upon returning home, people greet and wish each other happiness and luck for all the future endeavors. Dishes like samosa, simeya, rice and handesh are prepared on this day.
Since the day depends on the sighting of the crescent moon, celebrations of Eid ul Fitr are practiced on different days on the eastern and western side of the continent. Different methods for determining the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Shawwal are used in each particular community. North Americans celebrate the day in a quiet manner. On this day, Muslim usually wake up early, have a small breakfast and attend mosques for the Eid prayers. They then greet their family members and relatives.
One of the most awaited festivals of the year, Eid-ulFitr is referred to as ‘Seker Bayrami’ (Bayram of Sweets) or ‘Ramazan Bayrami’ (Ramadan Bayram). It marks an opportunity to meet family and relatives and indulge in ceremonious activities. As a customary practice, people greet one another with ‘Bayraminiz Kutlu Olsun’ (May Your Bayram Be Celebrated), ‘Mutlu Bayramlar’ (Happy Bayram), or the more religious ‘Bayraminiz Mubarek Olsun’ (May Your Bayram Be Holy).
In Turkey, Eid-ulFitr celebration is infused with national tradition. On this day, young people honor elderly citizens by kissing their right hand and placing it on one’s forehead, while wishing them Bayram. Children are seen flocking from door to door, greeting happy Bayram and getting candy, chocolates, traditional sweets or money in return. Concerts or more traditional forms of entertainment, such as the Karag’z and Hacivat shadow-theatre, are high on demand during the festive days of Eid.
The Shia cult in Iran celebrates the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr with much glory and fervor. Better known as Eyde Fetr by most Iranians, charity features as one of the important aspects done on the day. The morning is usually dedicated to prayers and attending mosques. Paying a visit to the elderly and gathering with families and friends is also very common sight in Iran. One of the distinctive things people indulge in is giving food to those in need. Payment of fitra or fetriye is obligatory for each Muslim, on this special day.