Marking the end of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr is celebrated across the globe joyously, especially by Muslims. It is also known as the “Festival of breaking fast” celebrations – one of the religion’s important festivals. Eid primarily refers to a “festival” or “feast” in Arabic. There are two significant Eid in the Islamic calendar every year, namely Eid al-Fitr (which is a three-day-long festival and is the “Lesser” or “Smaller Eid) earlier in the year while Eid al-Adha (which is a four-day-long and is widely known as the “Greater Eid”)
Eid al-Fitr also marks the first day of Shawwal month and goes on various days across regions. One wakes up early in the morning, chant salat ul-fajr (daily prayers), take a bath, wear new clothes, and put ittar (perfume). The initial date of any lunar Hijri month depends on the sighting of the new moon by religious authorities. It is said that Prophet Muhammad got the first revelation of the Holy Quran during the holy month of Ramadan. Eid al-Fitr marks the end of fasting from dawn to dusk. It is a day to honour Allah for offering strength, energy, endurance, kindness and good deeds during the month-long fasting rituals. They are urged to forgive and seek forgiveness, and practices could vary from country to country.
Followed by a sermon soon after dawn, the celebrations take place through a part in prayers. The day continues with devotees wearing new clothes, sharing greetings by saying “Eid Mubarak, ” which implies “have a blessed Eid”, and sending and disturbing sweets. Children receive Eidi from their elders in terms of gifts and money. The day does not get completed without a lengthy food menu comprising various dishes such as Haleem, Biryani, Nihari, kebabs and a dessert-like Seviyan. Zakat, or giving alms to the poor, is also performed on Eid as one of their five pillars. It is also a national holiday. Schools, offices and businesses are closed so that family, friends and neighbours can enjoy the festival together.
It is believed that good deeds are rewarded ten times in Islam. Practising the 30-day fasting period of Ramadan gives harmony, peace and prosperity to all those who believe and devote themselves to the religious cause.
After Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha comes on the 10th day of the final month in the Islamic calendar. It is a lunar calendar, and dates are projected on lunar phases.
The dates for Ramadan and Eid on the Gregorian calendar depends year-to-year since the Islamic calendar year is shorter than the solar Gregorian calendar year by 10 to 12 days.
The day recalls Allah appearing in Ibrahim’s dream to ask him to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, as a symbol of his faith. This folklore is similar to the Christian and Jewish stories when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac but later spared him. Muslims traditionally sacrifice animals, and the meat is then distributed among family, friends and those in need.
Charity to the poor is a value highly focused in Islam. The Quran states,
“Believe in Allah and his messenger, and give charity out of the (substance) that Allah has made you heirs of. For those of you who believe and give charity – for them is a great reward.”
This year, the calendar mentions Eid ul-Fitr on May 12, Wednesday. Generally, the Islamic community in India celebrates the festival a day later than in Saudi Arabia. Hence, Eid ul-Fitr will be celebrated on May 13, Thursday, in India.
Due to the covid-19 pandemic induced lockdown restrictions across the country, this year’s Eid this year is anticipated to be low-key while social distancing norms being in place.