CELEBRATING THE BREAKING OF THE FAST
Celebrating the end of the 30-day fasting period of Ramadan, Eid-al-Fitr is one of the most important festivals of Muslims worldwide and begins at sunset with the first sighting of the crescent or the new moon the night before also known as the ‘Chaand Raat’. It is celebrated with immense fervor all over the world wherever Muslims reside.
Owing to its dependence on the sighting of the new moon, the timing of the observation varies from one place to another and the holiday has different names in countries across the world, but the fervor remains the same. Happy tones of ‘Chaand Mubarak’ rend the air as soon as the new moon is sighted, while ‘Eid Mubarak’ coupled with warm embraces is a distinctive feature of the commencement of Eid celebrations globally on the day of Eid.
Mosques are painted and decorated with colorful lights, as are the houses and various commercial hubs, while activities including shopping for gifts, new clothes, fineries and a lot more are at their peak in the run-up to the celebrations. The spirits are high. Elaborate planning is done for the commemoration of the feasts and delicacies like ‘kebabs’, ‘korma’, ‘biryani’ are on the menu for the guests and family members. The Eid festivities are incomplete without the traditional ‘Sewaiyyan’, which is one of the highlights of a classic Eid menu.
There is more to Eid than just feasting. As per tradition, prophet Muhammed started the commemoration of Eid al-Fitr, which was first observed in Medina on his arrival there from Mecca when he saw people celebrating two days of feasting, thus initiating the celebration of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Depending on the country, the festival is celebrated for one to three days. There is a charitable side to it as the celebrations also include extending financial help to the needy ahead of the Eid prayers.
Eid prayers called ‘salat’ witness congregations of Muslim believers and are held in Mosques and open spaces as fields and community centres. These prayers include only two units of prayer called ‘rakat’ and a variable number of ‘takbirs’ (recitation of ‘Allahu Akbar’ meaning ‘God is the Greatest’). A sermon instructing Muslims to be diligent in their observance of rituals of Eid and prayers for forgiveness, mercy and peace are also an important part of the Muslim Eid worship. The personal and communal celebrations of the festival are held after the Eid prayers.