What Is Eid al-Fitr?
Eid al-Fitr (عيد الفطر ʻĪd al-Fiṭr), also called the “Festival of Breaking the Fast“, is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting (ṣawm). This religious Eid (Muslim religious festival) is the first and only day in the month of Shawwal during which Muslims are not permitted to fast. The holiday celebrates the conclusion of the 29 or 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the entire month of Ramadan. The day of Eid, therefore, falls on the first day of the month of Shawwal. The date for the start of any lunar Hijri month varies based on when the new moon is sighted by local religious authorities, so the exact day of celebration varies by locality.
Eid al-Fitr has a particular salat (Islamic prayer) consisting of two rakats (units) and generally offered in an open field or large hall. It may be performed only in congregation (jamāʿat) and has an additional extra six Takbirs (raising of the hands to the ears while saying “Allāhu ʾAkbar” which means “God is the greatest”), three of them in the beginning of the first raka’ah and three of them just before rukūʿ in the second raka’ah in the Hanafi school of Sunni Islam. Other Sunni schools usually have twelve Takbirs, seven in the first, and five at the beginning of the second raka’ah. According to Shia Islam, it has 6 Takbirs in the first Rakat at the end of qira’a, before rukūʿ, and 5 in the second. This Eid al-Fitr salat is, depending on which juristic opinion is followed, farḍ فرض (obligatory), mustaḥabb مستحب (strongly recommended, just short of obligatory) or mandūb مندوب (preferable).
Muslims believe that they are commanded by God, as mentioned in the Quran, to continue their fast until the last day of Ramadan and pay the Zakat al-Fitr before offering the Eid prayers.
Eid al-Fitr was originated by the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It is observed on the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal at the end of the month of Ramadan, during which Muslims undergo a period of fasting.
According to certain traditions, these festivals were initiated in Medina after the migration of Muhammad from Mecca. Anas (R.A) reports: When the Prophet arrived in Madinah, he found people celebrating two specific days in which they used to entertain themselves with recreation and merriment. He asked them about the nature of these festivities at which they replied that these days were occasions of fun and recreation. At this, the Prophet remarked that the Almighty has fixed two days [of festivity] instead of these for you which are better than these: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha
Traditionally, it is the day (beginning at sunset) of the first sighting of the crescent moon shortly after sunset. If the moon is not observed immediately after the 29th day of the previous lunar month (either because clouds block its view or because the western sky is still too bright when the moon sets), then it is the following day.
Eid al-Fitr is celebrated for one, two or three days. It is forbidden to fast on the Day of Eid. Also, a specific prayer is nominated for this day. As an obligatory act of charity, money is paid to the poor and the needy (Zakat-ul-fitr) before performing the ‘Eid prayer. . As another rituals, Muslims praise God in a loud voice while going to the Eid prayer: Allāhu Akbar, Allāhu Akbar, Allāhu Akbar. Lā ilāha illà l-Lāh wal-Lāhu akbar, Allahu akbar walil-Lāhi l-ḥamd. Recitation ceases when they get to the place of Eid or once the Imam commences activities.
Eid prayer and eidgah
Main article: Eid prayers
The Eid prayer is performed in congregation in open areas like fields, community centres, etc. or at mosques. No call to prayer is given for this Eid prayer, and it consists of only two units of prayerwith an additional six Takbirs. The Eid prayer is followed by the sermon and then a supplication asking for Allah’s forgiveness, mercy, peace and blessings for all living beings across the world. The sermon also instructs Muslims as to the performance of rituals of Eid, such as the zakat. Listening to the sermon at Eid is not required and is optional, a Sunnah i.e. while the sermon is being delivered. After the prayers, Muslims visit their relatives, friends and acquaintances or hold large communal celebrations in homes, community centres or rented halls.
Eid gifts, known as Eidi, are frequently given at eid to children and immediate relatives.
Performing Eid-ul-fitr prayer
Eid al-Fitr prayer (Salat al-Eid) or Eid al-Fitr Namaz is performed on the occasion of Eid. The Prayer of Eid al-Fitr is performed in two different ways by Sunni and Shia Islam.
There are two Rak’ah (Rakaat) performed in the Eid al-Fitr prayer. The prayer of Eid al-Fitr starts by doing “Niyyat” for the prayer and then Takbeer (Allahu Akbar) is said by the Imam and all the followers. The next is to recite “Takbeer-e-Tehreema” in first Rakaat. Then the congregation says Allahu Akbar seven times, every time raising hands to the ears and dropping them except the last time when hands are folded. Then the Imam reads the Surah-e-Fatiha and other Surah. Then the congregation performs Ruku and Sujud as in other prayers. This completes the first Rak’ah. Then the congregation rises up from the first Rak’ah and folds hands for the second Rak’ah. In the next step the Imam says five takbirat, followed by the congregation, every time raising the hands to the ears and dropping them except the last time when the hands are folded. Again the Imam reads the Surah-e-Fatiha and another Surah followed by the Ruku and Sujud. This completes the Eid prayer. After the prayer there is a khutbah.
Shia also perform two Rak’ah in the Eid al-Fitr prayer. Prayer starts with the Niyyat followed by the five “Takbeers”. During every “Takbeer” of the first Rak’ah, a special Dua is recited. Then the Imam recites Sūrat al-Fātiḥah and Surat Al-‘A
lá and the congregation performs Ruku and Sujud as in other prayers. In the second Rak’ah again the same above steps (five Takbeers, Sūrat al-Fātiḥah and Surat Al-'Alá, Ruku and Sujud) are repeated. After the prayer, Khutbah starts.
Practices by country
Eid al-Fitr is celebrated with great pomp in Saudi Arabia. Saudis decorate their homes and prepare sumptuous meals for family and friends. Eid festivities in Saudi Arabia may vary culturally depending on the region, but one common thread in all celebrations is of generosity and hospitality. First, it is common Saudi tradition for families to gather at the patriarchal home after the Eid prayers. Before the special Eid meal is served, young children will line up in front of each adult family member, who dispense money as gifts to the children. Family members will also typically have a time where they will pass out gift bags to the children. These bags are often beautifully decorated and contain candies and toys.Many shopkeepers will show their generosity at Eid providing free Eid gifts with each purchase. For example, during Eid, many of the chocolate shops will give each customer who buys a selection of candies a free crystal candy dish with their purchase. In the spirit of Eid, many Saudis go out of their way to show their kindness and generosity. It is common for even complete strangers to greet one another at random, even by occupants of vehicles waiting at stop lights. Sometimes even toys and gifts will be given to children by complete strangers. It is traditional for Saudi men to go and buy large quantities of rice and other staples, and then leave them anonymously at the doors of those who are less fortunate. During Eid morning and after the Eid prayer, people in some areas of the middle of Saudi Arabia (such as Al Qassim) host large communal meals. Celebrants put large rugs on one of the streets of their neighborhood, and households prepare a large meal to be shared by all neighbors. It is common practice for people to swap places to try more than one kind of meal.
In the major cities of Saudi Arabia, every night there are huge fireworks shows.
Eid al-Fitr is a three-day feast and an official holiday in Egypt with vacations for schools, universities and government offices. Some stores and restaurants are also closed during Eid. The Eid day starts with a small snack followed by Eid prayers in congregation attended by men, women, and children in which the sermon reminds Egyptians of the virtues and good deeds they should do unto others, even strangers, during Eid and throughout the year. Afterwards, neighbors, friends, and relatives start greeting one another. The most common greeting is “Eid Mubarak” (Blessed Eid). Family visits are considered a must on the first day of the Eid, so they have the other two days to enjoy by going to parks, cinemas, theatres or the beaches. Some like to go on tours or a Nile cruise, but Sharm El Sheikh is also considered a favorite spot for spending holidays in Egypt.Children are normally given new clothes to wear throughout the Eid. Also, women (particularly mothers, wives, sisters and daughters) are commonly given special gifts by their loved ones. It is customary for children to also receive a Eid-ey-yah from their adult relatives. This is a small sum of money that the children receive and is used to spend on all their activities throughout the Eid. Children will wear their new clothes and go out to amusement parks, gardens or public courtyards based on how much their Eidyah affords. The amusement parks can range from the huge ones on the outskirts of Cairo-Nile, Felucca Nile rides is one common feature of Eid celebration in Egyptian villages, towns and cities. The families gatherings involve cooking and eating all kinds of Egyptian food like Fata, but the items most associated with Eid al-Fitr are Ka’ak (singular = Kahka), which are cookies filled with nuts and covered with powdered sugar. Egyptians either bake it at home or buy it in the bakery. Thus, a bakery crowded in the last few days of Ramadan with Kahk buyers is a common scene. TV in Egypt celebrates Eid too, with a continuous marathon of movies as well as programmes featuring live interviews from all over Egypt of both public figures and everyday citizens, sharing their Eid celebrations. For a lot of families from working neighbourhoods, the Eid celebration also means small mobile neighbourhood rides, much like a neighbourhood carnival. In a lot of neighbourhood courtyards, kids also gather around a storyteller, a puppeteer or a magician mesmerised by Egyptian folktales or by a grownup’s sleight of hand. It is also customary for kids to rent decorated bikes to ride around town.
Egyptians like to celebrate with others so the streets are always crowded during the days and nights of Eid.
Since 2012, Tunisia sees three days of celebration, with only 2 days as a national holiday (1st Eid and second Eid), with preparations starting several days earlier. Special biscuits are made to give to friends and relatives on the day, including Baklawa and several kinds of “ka’ak”. Men will go to the mosque early in the morning, while the women will either go with them or stay in and prepare for the celebration by putting together new outfits and toys for their children, as well as a big family lunch generally held at one of the parents’ homes. During the daylight hours, there may be dancing and music, but the feasting lasts all day long, and many gifts are a large part of tradition. Also, food is the centre of this holiday, so this is one of the highlights of the evening. Different members of a family visit each other. Usually, children accompany their father and visit aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends to congratulate them on the Eid. They will be offered drinks and special cookies. Women will stay at home with some of the children in order to welcome members of the family that come to visit and congratulate for the end of the fasting.
The festival of Eid al-Fitr is celebrated by first attending the mosque in the morning for Eid prayer. This is followed by visiting relatives and neighbours. Children receive presents and money from elder members of the family, relatives and neighbours. Most people wear new clothes with bright colours, while biscuits, cakes, samosas, pies and tarts are presented to visitors as treats. Lunch is usually served in family groups. It is also customary to exchange gifts.
In Sudan, where 97% of the population is Muslim, preparations for Eid begin the last couple of days in Ramadan. For days, ka’ak (sugar powdered cookies), bettifour (dry baked goods including dainty biscuits, baked meringues and macaroons – whose name are derived from the French petit four) and popcorn are baked in large batches to serve to guests and to give to family and friends; dressy Eid clothes are either shopped for or sewn; girls and women decorate their hands and feet with henna; and parts of the house may even be painted. The night before Eid, the whole household partakes in cleaning the house and yard and setting out the finest bedsheets, table cloths, and decorations. On the day of Eid, men and boys (and occasionally women and girls) will attend the Eid prayer. For the next 3 days, families will then partake in visiting each other, extended family, neighbours, and close friends. In these short visits, the baked goods, chocolates and sweets are served, and often large lunches are prepared for the visiting well-wishers. Children are given gifts, either in the form of toys or money.
Nigeria is officially a secular country populated by large numbers of Muslims and Christians. Eid is popularly known as “Small Sallah” in Nigeria and people generally greet each other with the traditional greeting: “Barka Da Sallah”, which means “Greetings on Sallah” in the Hausa language. Muslims observe their Eid prayers at designated praying grounds before heading home to partake in festive meals, generally prepared by the women of the household. The Federal holiday typically lasts for three days in Nigeria.
In the predominantly Sunni Muslim culture of Afghanistan, Eid al-Fitr holds significant importance and is celebrated widely for three days. The most common greeting is Eid Mubarak (Blessed Eid). This Eid among the Pashto-speaking community is called Kochnai Akhtar. Afghans start preparing for the Eid al-Fitr festival up to ten days prior by cleaning up their homes. The practice is called Khana Takani in Dari. Afghans visit their local bazaars to buy new clothes, sweets and snacks. Special treats served to guests during the festivities during Eid are: Jelabi (Jalebi), Shor-Nakhod (made with chickpeas), and Cake wa Kolcha (a simple cake, similar to pound cake). On the day of Eid al-Fitr, Afghans will first offer their Eid prayers and then gather in their homes with their families, greeting one another by saying “Eid Mubarak” and usually adding “Eidet Mobarak Roza wa Namazet Qabool Dakhel Hajiha wa Ghaziha,” which means “Happy Eid to you; may your fasting and prayers be accepted by Allah, and may you be counted among those who will go to the Hajj-pilgrimage.” Family elders will give money and gifts to children. It is also common practice to visit families and friends, which may be difficult to do at other times of the year. Children walk from home to home saying “Khala Eidet Mubarak” (“aunt happy Eid”), and they receive cookies or Pala. At night multiple campfires will be set around houses, some to the point that entire valleys may initially appear to be engulfed in flame. Celebratory fire with automatic rifles, particularly tracer rounds, can also be expected in high density.
Special celebratory dishes in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh include Lachcha/লাচ্চা or sivayyan/শিমাই, a dish of fine, toasted sweet vermicelli noodles with milk and dried fruit (see Sheer khurma).
On Eid day before prayers, people distribute a charity locally known as fitrana. Many people also avail themselves of this opportunity to distribute zakat, an Islamic obligatory alms tax of 2.5% of one’s annual savings, to the needy. Zakat is often distributed in the form of food and new clothes. In India, there are many popular places for Muslims to congregate to perform Eid prayers at this time include the Jama Masjid in Delhi, Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, Aishbagh Idgah in Lucknow, Red Road and Nakhoda Masjid in Kolkata, Taj-ul Masjid in Bhopal, Jama Mosque in Mumbai, Hazratbal Mosque in Kashmir. Muslims turn out in the thousands, as there is a lot of excitement surrounding the celebration of this festival. It is common for some Hindus to visit their Muslim friends and neighbours on Eid to convey their greetings.
Eid al-Fitr is commonly known in Bangladesh as ‘Romjaner Eid’ and is observed over a three-day public holiday in Bangladesh. Educational institutions, banks and corporate offices usually remain closed for almost a week during this time. Bangladeshis observe the holiday by performing the obligatory Eid prayers on the morning of Eid, hugging each other and exchanging greetings, giving alms and gifts, and visiting friends, neighbours and relatives. Popular customs also include ladies decorating one’s hands with henna, people dressing up in new clothes and having a good meal with family members, relatives and friends.The morning of Eid begins with men and woman taking a bath, wear the newest clothes and head for Eid Prayerthen people exchange hugs and head home where a large banquet of food would be prepared. The most common foods during Eid is Pilau rice, Chicken Korma, Rost, Rezala, Kebabs, Prawn Malai curry and Chili chicken, although many other dishes are also prepared. However the most extravagant arrays of dishes are dessert which consist of Rasmalai, Rasgulla, Sandesh, Firni, a popular Bengali dish called Paesh, Mishti Doi (Dahi) and Faluda amongst many others. In Bangladesh family and friends visit each other’s houses over the course of the 3 days and 3 or 4 houses are visited a day. During the days of Eid children receive lots of money by relatives and family friends. For Bangladeshis Eid Al Fitr is the most awaited public holiday.
Idul Fitri or Hari Raya Aidilfitri or Lebaran is a public holiday in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Brunei. The customs and rituals of Eid al-Fitr are quite similar across Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, the Philippines, Southern Thailand and Cambodia.
Eid is known in Indonesia as Hari Raya Idul Fitri or more popularly as Lebaran, and is a national holiday. People return to their home town or city (an exodus known as mudik) to celebrate with their families and to ask forgiveness from parents, in-laws, and other elders.
Festivities start the night before with chanting the takbir and lighting lamps and fireworks. On the day itself, after Eid prayer in the morning, zakat alms for the poor are distributed in the mosques. People will gather with family and neighbours in traditional clothing and have a special Lebaran meal. Children are given money in colourful envelopes. Later, it is common for Muslims in Indonesia to visit the graves of relatives to ritually clean the grave. Muslims also visit the living in a special ritual called Halal bi-Halal some time during or several days after Idul Fitri.
Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Thailand
It is customary for workers in the city to return to their home town to celebrate with their families and to ask forgiveness from parents, in-laws, and other elders. This is known in Malaysia as balik kampung (homecoming).
The night before Hari Raya is filled with the sounds of takbir in the mosques or musallahs. In many parts of Malaysia, especially in the rural areas, pelita or panjutor lampu colok (as known by Malay-Singaporeans) (oil lamps, similar to tiki torches) are lit up and placed outside and around homes, while tiki torches themselves are also a popular decoration for that holiday. Special dishes like ketupat, rendang, lemang (a type of glutinous rice cooked in bamboo) and other Malay delicacies such as various kuih-muih are served during this day. It is common to greet people with “Salam Aidilfitri” or “Selamat Hari Raya” which means “Happy Eid”. Muslims also greet one another with “maaf zahir dan batin”, which means “Forgive my physical and emotional (wrongdoings)”.
It is customary for Muslim-Malaysians to wear a traditional cultural clothing on Hari Raya. The Malay variant (worn in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Southern Thailand) is known as the Baju Melayu, shirt worn with a sarong known as kain samping or songket and a headwear known as songkok. Malaysian women’s clothing is referred to as Baju Kurungand baju kebaya. It is a common practice however for the Malays in Singapore and Johor, Malaysia to refer to the baju kurung in reference to the type of outfit, worn by both men and women.
Celebrating with crackers in the early morning during Ramadan is now banned in many areas.
In Malaysia, children are given token sums of money, also known as “duit raya”, from their parents or elders.
In the Philippines, Eid al-Fitr, known to Muslims as “Araw ng Lebaran” / “Araw ng Raya” or familiar to the Christian majority and other non-Muslims as “Wakás ng Ramadán” (“End of Ramadan”) or incorrectly as “Ramadan“, has been recognised by the Philippine Government as a regular holiday by virtue of Republic Act No. 9177 and it is also according to Presidential Proclamation No. 1083, signed into law on 13 November 2002 – the only majority Christian country worldwide to have done so.
The law was enacted in deference to the Filipino Muslim community and to promote peace and harmony among major religions in the country. The first national commemoration of Eid al-Fitr was on 6 December 2002, marked by prayers and feasting. Some Filipino Muslims attend grand congregations at the Manila Golden Mosque and the Quirino Grandstand every Eid, while Muslim-majority communities in Mindanao stage large public celebrations.
Eid al-Fitar lasts for only one day among Burmese Muslims, who call the day Eid Nei’ (Nei’=day) or Eid Ka Lay (Ka Lay=small) or Shai Mai Eid (Shai Mai=a meal of sweet vermicelli served with fried cashews, coconut shreds, raisins, and milk that is traditionally eaten by Burmese Muslims during Eid). Burmese Muslims predominantly follow the Hanafi school of jurisprudence in Sunni Islam.
During Ramadan, in the small towns and big villages with significant Muslim populations, Burmese Muslim youth organise singing teams called Jago (in Urdu and Hindi), which means “wake up”. Jago teams usually do not use musical instruments apart from the occasional use of harmonica mouth organs. These youths will walk throughout the neighbourhoods before sunrise to wake up the fellow Muslims for Suhoor (pre-dawn meal), which precedes the day of fasting.
The roving groups of singers will take the tunes of popular Hindi movie songs, replaced with Burmese lyrics and invocations about fasting, the do’s and don’ts of Islam and about the benefits of Salaat. These songs could also be called Qawwali, which are popular in India and Pakistan. Sometimes these Jago groups will also visit Muslim homes on the Eid day, where they are welcomed with food and monetary donations for the team with Eidi or Duit Raya.
Although Eid al-Fitr is not a public holiday in Burma, most employers have an understanding of the festival and are usually willing to accommodate days off for Muslim staff. Some may even take time off during office hours to visit with Muslim staff at their homes, usually accompanied by other non-Muslim co – workers. As there is no single Islamic authority in Burma to make official decisions on moon-sighting, it is sometimes difficult to reach consensus on the start and end of Ramadan. This often results in Eid being celebrated on different days in small towns and villages.
The Eid al-Adha “Festival of Sacrifice” or “Greater Eid” is a public holiday in Burma as this event falls annually on the 10th day of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah (ذو الحجة) in the lunar Islamic calendar. Unlike Muslim countries that observe a three-day festival, Eid al-Adha is only observed on one day in Burma. During both Eids, the traditional greeting is merely the common Islamic greeting of Assalamualaikum, and Eid Mubarak is only seldom heard. The greeting is followed by placing the right hand on the forehead (as if giving a salute); there is no shaking of hands and rarely only includes a formal embrace.
Gifts and food are frequently given to the elder relatives and even to non-Muslim employers and government authorities. New clothes are traditionally given to family members and co – workers, but Burmese Muslims elders will give Eidi gifts to children. Children will receive at least token amounts of money, even from strangers, especially if they went around the neighbourhoods in groups just to collect Eidi. It is common for children and young people to go around giving greetings of “salaam” to parents, elder relatives and other elders in the community. During Eid, Burmese Muslims ask forgiveness from parents and elders and themselves try to forgive and forget any misunderstandings that may have occurred amongst one another.
Sometimes Burmese Muslims pray or perform Eid salah (called Eid Namaz) at an Eidgah in open spaces outdoors. Burmese Muslim women typically do not attend the mosque or join with the men at an Eidgah.
As Burmese Muslims are discouraged by the religious authorities from decorating their homes with lights, lamps or colourful bulbs, sending Eid cards, and more recently, sending e-cards through the internet, is fairly common. Children and adults are also urged not to celebrate any religious festival with fireworks or firecrackers.
In the People’s Republic of China, out of 56 officially recognised ethnic groups, Eid al-Fitr is celebrated by at least 10 ethnic groups that are predominantly Muslim. These groups are said to total 18 million according to official statistics, but some observers say the actual number may be much higher. It is also a public holiday in China in certain regions, including two Province Prefecture Level regions, Ningxia and Xinjiang. All residents in these areas, regardless of religion, are entitled to either a one-day or three-day official holiday. Outside the Muslim-majority regions, only Muslims are entitled to a one-day holiday. In Xinjiang province, Eid al-Fitr is even celebrated by Han Chinese population during which holiday supplies of mutton, lamb and beef are distributed to households as part of welfare programme funded by government agencies, public and private institutions, and businesses.
In Yunnan, Muslim populations are spread throughout the region. On Eid al-Fitr, however, some devotees may travel to Sayyid ‘Ajjal’s grave after their communal prayers. There, they will conduct readings from the Quran and clean the tomb, reminiscent of the historic annual Chinese Qingming festival, in which people go to their ancestors’ graves, sweep and clean the area and make food offerings.
Finally the accomplishments of the Sayyid ‘Ajall will be related in story form, concluded by a special prayer service to honour the hundreds of thousands of Muslims killed during the Panthay Rebellion, and the hundreds killed during the Cultural Revolution.
Eid al-Fitr (i.e. Seker Bayram, Sugar Feast) is celebrated in Greece mainly in the Western Thrace region from the local Muslim minority (Turks, Pomaks and Roma), along with the other two major celebrations, Kurban Bayram (Sacrifice Feast) and Hıdırellez. On the day of the Bayram, family gathers together, wears its best clothes, and celebrate with a common meal, after having attend the morning prayer. The women prepare and offer sweets to family and visitors, while small children go around and pay their respects to the elderly, by kissing their hands, and they in turn reward them with caddies, sweets, and small amount of money. Local Muslim shopkeepers close their shops this day, while Muslim minority schools have a 5-day holiday for the feast. Some entertainment venues and clubs hold special events for the night of the Bayram.
In Australia, a predominantly secular country, Muslims are able to practise their religion with great freedom. Most large companies allow for special religious holidays allowing Muslims to take a day off for Eid al-Fitr. Areas where there are large (but not necessarily majority) Muslim populations have overflowing attendances at the mosque for the Eid al-Fitr prayer. Police frequently block off roads and divert traffic to cater for the prayer and subsequent festivities. Eid prayers are also held in open areas (playground, stadium) in some places.
In 1987, The Australian MEFF Consortium commenced the Multicultural Eid Festival and Fair to celebrate Eid in Sydney, held shortly after Eid al-Fitr. The festival has grown to now cater for tens of thousands of Muslims and non-Muslims and has included as guests Yusuf Islam, famous Australian rugby player, Hazem El Masri, the then governor-general of Australia, Michael Jeffery and the previous premier of New South Wales, Kristina Keneally. This festival has now been replicated in cities all around Australia. The biggest Eid fair in Melbourne is held in Broadmeadows usually on the weekend following the Eid day. In Canberra, the capital of Australia, Eid Festival sponsored by Australian Federal Police (AFP) is held on the Sunday after the Eid day. The festival includes stalls from different nations, cultural programme, and rides for kids and adults.
Most Muslims in the United States offer the Eid prayer in big-city Islamic centers, convention halls or open parks. Muslims from different cultures with multi-national customs get together for prayers and celebrations. In some cities, prayers are done at multiple times to accommodate the large number of attendees. Generally, Muslims visit each other’s homes on Eid or hold large feasts in mosques or community halls. Sometimes, mosques rent parks for Muslims to pray in. Women and children may adorn their hands with henna to mark the celebration. Typically, new clothing and attire are worn. Gifts are often exchanged amongst children. Another ritual or practice is the giving of ‘Eidee’, usually a nominal amount of a cash gift to children or youth to mark the occasion.
During the 3 days of Eid, many Muslims join big parties sponsored either by a community mosque or Islamic center or by a wealthy Muslim in the community. Children receive gifts, and all participants enjoy sweet, spicy and other flavourful delicacies. Many Muslims also donate money to those less fortunate. Sometimes, Muslims reserve amusement parks, skating rinks or other activity centers for an entire day of fun.
In New York City alternate side parking (street cleaning) regulations are suspended. Beginning in 2016, New York City Public Schools will also remain closed on Eid. In Houston, Texas, the annual prayers are offered at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston, organised by the Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH).
The United States Postal Service (USPS) has issued several Eid postage stamps, across several years – starting in 2001 – honoring “two of the most important festivals in the Islamic calendar: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.” Eid stamps were released in 2001–2002, 2006–2009, and a Forever® stamp in 2011.
For Eid al-Fitr, just as in the United States, most Canadian Muslims will take a day off from work and go to prayers held in big-city mosques or Islamic centres, convention halls or sports arenas. Muslims from different cultures with multi-national customs get together for prayers and celebrations. In the larger cities of Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa, congregational prayers may be done at multiple times to accommodate the large number of attendees. Many Muslims will visit each other’s homes on the Eid day or the days following to attend designated “open houses” in which everyone is welcome to visit. Children receive gifts or money, and sweets and tasty dishes are served throughout the day. Smaller Muslim communities, particularly in the rural areas, hold other communal gatherings in mosques or rented community halls. Muslims also donate money or contribute to their local food banks on this day for those who are less fortunate.
In many Canadian communities, Muslim organisations and mosques also hold large Eid parties that are open to the entire Muslim community. Some groups may reserve amusement parks or other activity centres for an entire day of fun and celebration, while others may hold public Eid parties in mosques as a means of outreach to the larger non-Muslim society.
Students from Canadian schools may take 2–3 days off, because Eid is a major holiday in the Islamic culture.
Trinidad and Tobago
Eid-al-Fitr is a public Holiday in Trinidad and Tobago.
During the morning, observant men usually wear a thawb, jubba or sherwani, and women usually wear a salwar kameez, abaya or any other traditional clothing. Generally speaking, men, women and children will wear their best clothes. They will then proceed to a local mosque, community centre or park (in the summer months) for the Eid prayer. During the journey to the mosque, and up until the start of the prayer, it is Islamic tradition to recite takbeer – a reminder that God is Greater. Immediately after the Eid prayer and sermon have finished, people greet each other with “Eid Mubarak,” or the equivalent in their mother-tongue. Some men may go to a local cemetery after Eid prayers to remember the deceased and pray for them. When they return home they will congratulate family and friends and other Muslims, before having breakfast together of traditional sweet and savoury treats. Gifts and money are usually given to children.
Throughout the day, everyone will either visit or host friends and relatives, sharing some of the traditional foods with them. Bangladeshi dishes and Pakistani dishes such as samosas, Siweya, Rice and Handesh, Noonor Bora, and Fulab are particularly popular within those communities. Other communities enjoy a range of traditional foods too.
As in Egypt, there have been a small number of reports of sexual assaults associated with the Eid in the UK.
Muslims comprise around 7% (63,000 people) of the total population of Fiji, a small tropical island-nation northeast of Australia. The Muslim community mostly consists of people of Indian origin, descendants of indentured labourers who were brought to the islands in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by the British colonists. Although no accurate statistical evidence exists, there are also thought to be a few hundred indigenous Fijian Muslims (Melanesians) in the island nation. The vast majority of Muslims in Fiji are of the Sunni branch of Islam who follow the Hanafi school of jurisprudence.
The day of Eid al-Fitr is celebrated in Fiji with Muslim men wearing their best clothes and attending the mosque for the early morning congregational prayer (women do not go to the mosques for prayers in most parts of Fiji). This is followed by visiting relatives and neighbours. Children receive presents and money from elder members of the family, relatives and neighbours. Most Muslims will wear new clothes on this day, and serve samai, a dish of fine, sweet vermicelli noodles mixed in warm milk. This is usually accompanied by samosas, curried chicken and beef as well as sweets and Indian snacks for guests visiting throughout the day.
The traditional Eid greeting is Eid Mubarak, and it is frequently followed by a formal embrace.
Mauritius is a diverse island nation where several religions live together in relative harmony. Muslims make up about 16.6% of the total population and Eid is one of the island’s national holidays. Eid itself is celebrated across the island, with the preparation of a feast, which typically includes the “biryani”. Men accomplish their Eid prayer at the local mosques or at the Eid Gah. Cultural shows are usually performed in the days that follow Eid.
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