Eid is a Muslim festival similar to Christmas, which the Christians celebrate. But unlike Christmas, Eid is celebrated not for any significant dates or birth of any prophet, but to mark the end of the holy month long fasting of Ramadan. Eid, also known as the ‘Festival of fast breaking’ is a three-day affair, wherein Muslims from all over the world, celebrate the event by giving gifts to their family members, friends, relatives and neighbours. Eid is celebrated twice a year — the first one is after the Ramadan, the occasion which is called ‘Eid-ul-Fitr’, and the other, which is celebrated during Dhu-al-Hijjah. This festivity is called ‘Eid-u-Adha’.
Eid-ul-Fitr is a very important day for the Muslim community, as this day marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan (or Ramzan) is when Muslims from all over the world observe fasting from dawn till dusk as a mark of piety to the one who created the universe. Not even water is drunk during this entire holy month, however hot the climate may be, or however thirsty one may feel. It’s sacrifice to Allah, they say.
The holy month of Ramadan is very auspicious to Muslims all over the world. It is celebrated on the day after the crescent moon is sighted. The Muslims observe a fast for 30 days, starting with the sighting of the new moon and end it after seeing the new moon, the next month. Muslims give alms and recite the Holy Quran during the entire holy month. Eid is celebrated in India with much enthusiasm and fervour by Muslims from all walks of life.
The importance of ‘Eid-ul-Fitr’ is associated with an actual event in the history of Islam. Allah sent an angel by the name of Gabriel (remember, it was the same angel that was sent by God to give the good news of Jesus’ birth to Mary). to reveal his words over a period of 23 years. These teachings formed the Holy Quran. Following the successful completion of the month of Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr becomes a great occasion to thank Allah for giving believers the will-power and endurance to observe the month-long fast and follow rules in personal conduct. It is also a time to renew one’s faith in Allah and seek His blessings.
The Islamic practice of giving ‘zakat’ (alms) is also upheld during this time. Just before Eid, Muslims part with some portion of their earnings and give grains to the poor, so that they too can celebrate Eid with full fervour. On the day of Eid-ul-Fitr, morning prayers are followed by a sermon and a congregational prayer at the mosque. Muslims offer Eid prayer ‘Do Rakat Namaz’ on this day. Then, dressed in new clothes they proceed to greet their family members, relatives and friends. This is done through friendly embraces and handshakes as good gestures of unity. The ritual of distributing alms on this day is observed throughout the ongoing celebrations.
Great importance is attached to Eid-ul-Fitr in India, as it is an important public holiday. All schools, colleges and public institutions remain closed on this day to mark its significance. Also, there exists a considerably large population of the Muslim minority, which adds to the cultural demographics of India. With time, these traditions have strengthened their interaction and intermingling with the Indian culture. Eid-ul-Fitr has, thus, seeped into India’s cultural milieu and is looked forward among people of all communities.