Eid-al-Fitr or Eid-ul-Fitr is a festive day celebrated by the followers of Islam after a month of fasting as a way to show gratitude to God (Allah). The festival originated from Prophet Muhammad who is said to have declared Eid-al-Adha and Eid-al-Fitr as two days of festivities to the otherwise savage Arab tribes of the time. It is said to have been started in Medina after Prophet Mohammed migrated from Mecca to Medina and instructed his followers to observe the festival.
The history of the festival differs in various account, but the most acceptable one tells the story of Prophet Mohammed being blessed with divine knowledge which he later revealed in the Holy book Quran in the month of Ramadan. Thus, the festival is a celebration of the knowledge being bestowed by God unto humans. Throughout the month of Ramadan, Muslims all across the world fast from dawn till dusk, and Eid-al-Fitr comes as the day which marks the end to this sacrifice of food and water for expressing gratitude to God.
Eid-al-Fitr is celebrated on the first day of the 10th month of Islamic calendar, Shawwal. After a month long fasting and cleansing of soul, Muslims around the world wake up on the morning of Eid-al-Fitr to take a bath and wear new clothes to commemorate the celebration. Then they go to communal prayer in the Eid-gaah or some open place. Unlike other namaaz where there is azaan to call people for prayer, Eid’s namaaz has no calling prayer. People gather up and perform the namaaz after which they greet each other by hugging and congratulating each other saying, “Eid Mubarak” (Blessed Eid).
Customs differ from region to region. Eid-al-Fitr also depends on the sighting of moon or Eid ka chaand which is supposed to be the slimmest crescent of moon. The sighting is called Chaand Raat in India and is celebrated with communal picnics. Due to the sighting the day of Eid varies from region to region. Hence, Eid is never celebrated on the same day throughout the country. For example, India celebrates Eid a day after it is being celebrated in Saudi Arabia.
Some of the customs include cooking sewai (a sweet dish), painting the hands of the women with henna, visiting other people to promote brotherhood in the community. There are some local development in the customs as well, in Maldives, people burn dry grasses and leaves called Eid-Malhi on the last day of Ramadan.
Amidst the violence in different countries like Turkey, Bangladesh and recently Iraq and Saudi Arabia, all we can wish for is a peaceful Eid. Eid comes as a celebration of the sacrifice, of donating to the poor known as zakat, and of promoting brotherhood. We wish you all Eid Mubarak.