Eid-ul-Fitr marks the end of the 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Muslims all over the world celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr on the 1st of Shawwal-al-Mukarram. Read on further to learn more about Eid-ul-Fitr, its importance and how it is celebrated.
What is Eid-ul-Fitr?
Eid-ul-Fitr is an important Islamic holiday that marks the end of the 9th month and the commencement of the 10th month of the Islamic lunar Hijri calendar. The Hijri calendar, like the Gregorian calendar, consists of 12 months but the months are shorter. In a regular non-leap year, the year consists of 355 days. Also, the Hijri calendar runs a few centuries behind the Gregorian calendar that entered the Common Era with the birth of Jesus Christ. As such, Eid-ul-Fitr 2021 corresponds with the end of Ramadan 1442 AH.
Eid-ul-Fitr: Its meaning
The word Eid-ul-Fitr can be broken down to mean a day of happiness. The word fitr comes from the Arabic word futoor which means breakfast. Devotees are said to be in a state of fasting until Eid-ul-Fitr prayers have been offered on the 1st of Shawwal-al-Mukarram. Once this fast is broken, the first meal consumed is breakfast. In other words, it is a day of celebration where breakfast is consumed after a month of rigorous fasting.
When is Eid-ul-Fitr celebrated?
This year, Eid-ul-Fitr 2021 will fall on Friday, May 14. Since the end of the month of Ramadan is confirmed only after the sighting of the new moon, it is not possible to predict the Eid-ul-Fitr date accurately as per the Gregorian calendar. The precedence is taken by Saudi Arabia for this sighting of the new moon. Sometimes, the moon may not be able to have been sighted in some areas (locally) which is why Eid-ul-Fitr’s date for celebration may differ.
The celebrations begin early in the day with Muslims attending congressional prayers at mosques and/or community centres. According to the revealed book of the Muslims, the Holy Quran, dictates that adherents must give a generous donation in charity or Zakat al-Fitr before offering the prayers for Eid. The morning prayer or the salat-ul-fajr is recited which is followed by a special Eid-ul-Fitr sermon, or the khutbah.
While several dishes are prepared for the Eid-ul-Fitr feast, the star of the meal is a milk-based dessert drink called sheer-qorma. The sheer-qorma is a hot dessert consisting of thick milk cooked with calumpang nuts, sugar, vermicelli and a variety of dried fruit. This dessert is made in excess to be shared with neighbours, family and friends. Eid-ul-Fitr practices may differ from country to country and region to region incorporating the local customs, tastes and practices. For example, in the Maghreb region (in particular, Morocco) Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations are accompanied by belly dancing and Andalusian music.
Similarly, concerning names, the name for the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr varies from language to language, region to region. In Senegal, this 3-day celebration is called Korité. In Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, the festival is known as Oraza Ait. Interestingly, in Turkey, the holiday is referred to as Ramazan Bayramı which translates to meaning Ramadan holiday when in essence Eid-ul-Fitr can only be celebrated after the month of Ramadan concludes.
A semi-mandatory part of the Eid-ul-Fitr celebration that has become vastly popular is the giving of Eidi. This Eidi, generally given in cash, is what children look forward to receiving most on the day of Eid. It is customary for all adult members of the house to individually give Eidi to the children at home. Sometimes, Eidi may be given to children of the extended family or family friends as well.
The most common expression of Eid-ul-Fitr greeting is “Eid Mubarak” or “Eid-ul-Fitr Mubarak” which literally means to have a blessed Eid. Other than that, greetings like “Khair Mubarak” are also common. These customary Eid-ul-Fitr greetings are accompanied by prayers for the health and well-being of friends and family. So more than greetings, it would be more appropriate to say that good wishes are exchanged on Eid-ul-Fitr.
Eid-ul-Fitr in India
It is sometimes observed that Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated in India one day after it is celebrated in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. In India, the day of Eid-ul-Fitr is a dedicated national holiday. With sporadic lockdowns and the rising severity of the COVID–19 pandemic in India, it would be prudent to keep celebrations low-key. Keeping in mind, the COVID-19 protocols, Eid-ul-Fitr is expected to be celebrated simply and at home only.