Muslims and Eid-ul-Fitr:
There are approximately 1.8 billion Muslims in the world, roughly 24% of the world’s population. Additionally, 26 countries identify with Islam as their official religion. Large minorities of Muslims can also be found in Western and Eastern non-Muslim countries. Thus, it can be concluded that Muslims are spread around the four corners of the globe, each community with its own set of cultures and rules, celebrating a special day of happiness and joy together, otherwise known as Eid-ul-Fitr.
What is Eid-ul-Fitr?
Eid-ul-Fitr is an Islamic religious holiday that marks a period of celebration for all Muslims around the globe. Traditionally, Eid-ul-Fitr means the “Festival of Breaking the Fast”. It is a significant celebration for Muslims as it commemorates the completion of Ramadan. Ramadan is a holy month during which Muslims refrain from eating and drinking daily and shun evil vices.
Eid-ul-Fitr 2023, a very important event for muslims, is expected to fall on Friday, the 21st of April, or Saturday, the 22nd of April, depending on when the crescent moon is sighted. Unlike the western Gregorian calendar, the Islamic calender is a lunar calendar.
Here is how five different Muslim countries celebrate Eid:
1) Eid Celebrations in Indonesia
Indonesia is located in Southeast Asia and Oceania. It consists of over 17000 islands and is the 3rd most populous country in the world. Moreover, it is also the largest Muslim country, in terms of population, as 88% of its population identifies as Muslim. Thus, Eid-ul-Fitr, or Lebaran, as it is called in Indonesia, is a major event that is celebrated on a colossal level. In Indonesia, an exodus occurs before the Eid-ul-Fitr holidays, during which millions of people leave cities like Java for villages in order to celebrate with friends and family. This event is also known as Mudik.
Indonesians celebrate Eid by doing many customs, one of which is Halal Bihalal. It is a tradition that involves visiting family members, friends, neighbours, and coworkers and asking for forgiveness. Additionally, people greet each other with the saying “Mohan maaf lahir dan batin” meaning “forgive me for all my wrongdoings” on the day of Lebaran. It is a wonderful way to increase overall harmony and happiness in a society.
Similar to other Muslim countries, Indonesians dress up and wear new clothes on Eid. The Eid-day begins with Eid prayers and ends with large feasts at private family gatherings. Traditional foods cooked on Lebaran usually include ketupat; a rice cake covered with coconut leaves, semur: a beef stew with flavourful and rich gravy, and many other traditional foods.
2) Eid Celebrations in Turkey
Turkiye is situated at a significant geopolitical crossroad, being a bridge between Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, and Caucasian, as well as being surrounded by the three different seas. Because nearly 99% of the population is Muslim, Eid is a must-have holiday in this country.
Eid-ul-Fitr is known as Ramadan Bayrami or the “Ramadan Feast” in Türkiye. People wear new clothes and dress finely on the morning of Eid. They leave their house for the Eid prayers, a special prayer only done by Muslims on this holiday. Major Mosques like Hagia Sophia and the Sultan Ahmet are packed on the morning of Bayram.
This holiday is also given the title of “Seker Bayrami” (Candy Festival), as small amounts of candy and money are wrapped in handkerchiefs and gifted to children.
Traditional foods made on this day include sweets and desserts in a large variety. The staple dessert is baklava; thinly rolled out pieces of phyllo dough covered in a sweet syrup and pistachio filling, however many other desserts are prepared as well.
3) Eid Celebrations in Bosnia & Herzegovina
3.) Bosnia and Herzegovina is a Muslim-majority country situated in the Balkan peninsula and consists of three major ethnicities, Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats. The largest of these three, in terms of number, are Bosniaks, who are predominantly Sunni Muslims. This country has faced many geopolitical turmoils, resulting in extreme warfare in the first half of the 1990s. This only stopped after international peacemakers intervened and the Dayton Accords were set up.
Even with a war-ravaged history, Bosniaks still celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr as a time of celebration and increased harmony. The first day of Eid starts with men leaving for Fajr (morning) prayers and Eid prayers, after which the house of the eldest family member is visited and Eid greetings are offered. On the second day, families visit the graves of loved ones that they may have lost in difficult times. This day is also known as “The Day of Martyrs’. The third day of Eid is spent in gatherings of friends or colleagues, generally spent as a day of enjoyment.
Bajram Banka is a special gift given to children on Eid, usually consisting of sweets and money. Soup, sarma, dolma, cabbage rolls, and hadzijski kebab are among the most famous items on the Eid menu. Primary desserts include baklava and ruzica.
4) Eid Celebrations in Morocco
Morocco is a small country in North Africa with a Muslim-majority population. Eid-ul-Fitr or “Eid Sghir” (Smaller Eid) is a significant celebration in the Moroccan calendar. It starts with men leaving for the Eid prayers in the morning, after which Eid greetings are exchanged, and people congratulate each other for the blessed day.
The custom attire for this day is Gandoura (cotton tunics) for men and djellaba (long outer robes) or caftan for women, especially during the Eid prayer.
Eid Sghir is mainly celebrated by Moroccans as a day of private family gatherings, but some communal activities take place as well, especially inside or near mosques. On this day, family and friends are visited, and lavish luncheons take place, including delicious foods such as seafood pastilla, roasted chicken, and couscous as the main entrée, followed by mouth-watering desserts like baghrir (butter and honey-soaked pancakes) or feqas (double-baked cookies containing almonds and raisins). For Moroccans, their cuisine is something vital to their culture and to their gatherings.
5) Eid Celebrations in Pakistan
Pakistan is the 5th most populous country in the world, and about 96.4% of its citizens identify as Muslim. In Pakistan, Eid-ul-Fitr is also known as “Choti Eid ” (Smaller Eid). The night before Eid, the last night of Ramadan, is referred to as “Chand Raat” (Moon Night) as the crescent moon is sighted on this night. This signals the end of Ramadan and the celebration of Eid the next day.
Eid morning is spent by men leaving for Eid prayers, and women decorating the house and preparing traditional dishes. People start their day by visiting the household of the eldest family member and exchanging greetings such as “Eid Mubarak” which is replied to by “Khair Mubarak”. Children are usually given hefty amounts of money by elders known as “Eidi”.
Common dishes on this day include desserts like kheer (rice pudding), savaiyan (sweet vermicelli), and shahi tukray (bread soaked in sweet milk). Other savory dishes like chaat, and dahi bhallay are also made
Islam is a religion that is practiced all over the world and is accepted by people of many cultures and traditions. Thus, Eid is a global celebration that occurs after the world’s longest communal fast ends. Each country has its own set of cultural norms and traditions, but one responsibility that all persons celebrating Eid must follow, regardless of geography, is to pay the mandatory Zakat. Zakat is a tax on a person’s wealth that must be paid to the poor, on the occasion of Eid-ul Fitr. This is a major ritual of Eid, that is practiced in many Muslim nations to guarantee that everyone has a good time and that the less fortunate do not feel left out. This concludes that, no matter how much we celebrate, we must never forget the lessons we learnt in Ramadan about living like those who have less, about controlling ourselves from evil vices and ensuring love, compassion, and care for ourselves and others around us.