What is Eid?
Muslims all over the world are celebrating Eid al-Fitr, one of the religion’s principal festivals. Do you know what Actually Eid is, and what it means? Eid literally means a “festival” or “feast” in Arabic. There are two major Eids in the Islamic calendar per year – Eid al-Fitr earlier in the year and Eid al-Adha later. Eid al-Fitr is a three-day-long festival. Eid Fitri is celebrated after 1 month of observing fast, that is after a month of Ramadan. Eid al-Fitr is celebrated on the first day of the 10th month in the Islamic calendar. The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, and dates are calculated based on lunar phases. Since the Islamic calendar year is shorter than the solar Gregorian calendar year by 10 to 12 days, the dates for Ramadan and Eid on the Gregorian calendar can vary year by year.
Eid al-Fitr means “the feast of breaking the fast.” The fast, in this instance, is Ramadan, which recalls the revealing of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad and requires Muslims to fast from sunrise to sundown for a month. Eid al-Fitr features two to three days of celebrations that include special morning prayers. People greet each other with “Eid Mubarak,” meaning “Blessed Eid” and with formal embraces. Sweet dishes are prepared at home and gifts are given to children and to those in need. In addition, Muslims are encouraged to forgive and seek forgiveness. Practices vary from country to country.
In many countries with large Muslim populations, Eid al-Fitr is a national holiday. Schools, offices, and businesses are closed so family, friends, and neighbors can enjoy the celebrations together. In the U.S. and the U.K., Muslims may request to have the day off from school or work to travel or celebrate with family and friends.
In countries like Egypt and Pakistan, Muslims decorate their homes with lanterns, twinkling lights, or flowers. Special food is prepared and friends and family are invited over to celebrate. In places like Jordan, with its Muslim majority population, the days before Eid al-Fitr can see a rush at local malls and special “Ramadan markets” as people prepare to exchange gifts on Eid al-Fitr.
How is Eid Celebrated in Nepal?
Talking about our country Nepal, it is celebrated quite similarly. In areas with Muslim minorities, the atmosphere doesn’t seem very festive but the areas of the Terai region can make you feel the vibes of a festive mood due to majority of Muslim residents. In Kathmandu, On the day of Eid, the Jama Masjid at Ghanta Ghar is basically the spot where almost all Muslim gather to pray the Eid prayer. After praying they embrace each other wishing “ Eid Mubarak”. They buy sweets on the way to their homes. We wear new clothes, cook delicious foods and organize a get-together with family and friends. Biryani and Sewai are the main two dishes of the day.
Zakat ul Fitri
Eid al-Fitr, as it follows the fasting of Ramadan, is also seen as a spiritual celebration of Allah’s provision of strength and endurance. Amid the reflection and rejoicing, Eid al-Fitr is a time for charity, known as Zakat al-Fitr. Eid is meant to be a time of joy and blessing for the entire Muslim community and a time for distributing one’s wealth. This makes each Muslim enjoy the day happily either poor or rich. Zakat ul Fitri is just 2.5 % of total wealth extracted and is given as charity to needy people. This Zakat ul Fitri must be extracted before Eid day. This system fascinates me as I realized how perfectly this system is organized. If people give charity before Eid day it will help the needy people to arrange for their day. If it had not been so, People may extend extracting their Zakat ul Fitri up to Eid day which would not give time to those who need help to arrange and buy new clothes and foods for their Eid.
Charity to the poor is a highly emphasized value in Islam. The Quran says, “Believe in Allah and his messenger, and give charity out of the (substance) that Allah has made you heirs of. For those of you who believe and give charity – for them is a great reward.”
Nepal is a land of diversity. So when this land celebrates every festival it makes its land looks beautiful. Like a garden with many colorful flowers and scents.
Featured photo of Devotees gathered for prayer on the pious occasion of Eid ul Fitr at Jama Mosque in Nepalgunj, Banke District. By Nihal Akhtar