A Peek Into Eid Celebrations Around The World
As Eid-ul-Fitr, the festival that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan on the Islamic calendar, draws near, let’s take a look at some unique ways in which it is celebrated across countries.
By Moina Memon
Islam is a world religion and Ramadan Eid or Eid-ul-Fitr is a festival marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Muslims eagerly wait to sight the new moon on the 29th or 30th night of Ramadan (as per the Lunar calendar) to celebrate Eid festival the next day, after observing rozas or fasts for a whole month.
For Muslims, Ramadan is a period of purification. They are expected to abstain not only from food and water during the day, but also from acts of anger and hatred throughout the month. Islamic Scholar Nouman Ali Khan explains that by doing so, the needs of both the body and the ego are sacrificed, thus helping people to become better human beings with control over nafs – an Arabic word meaning 'self' but used to refer to the 'soul'.
On the day of Eid, Muslims everywhere wear new clothes and head to mosques in the morning to listen to a sermon by maulvis (priests) and offer prayers praising and thanking Allah. After the prayers they greet each other saying Eid Mubarak, meaning, ‘Have a Blessed Eid!’ In the subcontinent of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan this greeting is followed by the customary three hugs which is an expression of love and brotherhood. During the next couple of days, people visit elders to greet them and also visit graveyards to pay their respects to the memory of those who have passed on. Children go around their neighbourhoods wishing people Eid Mubarak and are given gifts of candy, sweets, or even token amounts of money called eidi.
While the essence of the festival everywhere in the world is harmony and brotherhood and a feast is of course part of the celebration, each culture has its own twist to the way Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated, especially, in terms of food. Here are some ways in which different countries mark the day.
India And Pakistan: A Sweet Start
Indians and Pakistanis celebrate the festival in similar fashion – traditionally, homes are cleaned and the womenfolk wake up early to cook sheer korma – a sweet made with milk, nuts, sugar and vermicelli. The entire family eats a bowl of this dish before going to the mosque for Eid prayers. Later, they meet and greet near and dear ones and children go from door to door collecting eidi.
Indonesia: Mega Celebrations
In Indonesia Eid is also called Lebaran and is celebrated on a big scale as the country has a sizeable Muslim population. The traditional menu for the festival includes ketupat or rice dumplings, often eaten with rendang, a spicy meat dish, and dodol, a toffee-like palm sugar-based confection. Rice cooked in hollow bamboo sticks, known as lemang, is another highlight of the feast.
Egypt: Four Days of Joy
During the four-day long Eid celebrations in Egypt, people meet family and friends to exchange greetings. The festive spread includes delicious fish dishes, fata (a blend of rice, vinegar, meat and onions) and kahk, traditional nut-filled cookies rolled in powdered sugar.
Turkey: A Delightful Time
The festival of Eid, known as Ramzan Bayrami in Turkey, is celebrated in style. Desserts feature prominently on the menu of the day. An all-time favourite is lokum, known to the rest of the world as ‘Turkish Delight’. A jelly-like combination of sugar and starch, it is filled with dates, pistachios and walnuts. Baklava and güllaç are other favourites. The latter consists of light wafers made of wheat flour and corn starch, sandwiched with milk-soaked almonds or walnuts and garnished with pomegranate seeds and dried fruits.
Morocco: Hearty Fare in Africa
In Morocco the day begins with a breakfast of laasida, a dish that looks like a rice pudding but is made of couscous, butter, honey and seasoning. To round off the day, there’s usually a traditional tagine – a rich, flavourful stew made with meat and vegetables, seasoned with spices and cooked in a special, cone-shaped vessel made of ceramic or unglazed clay. It is usually eaten with bread.
Russia: A Russian Twist
Manti or dumplings are a traditional Russian Eid-ul-Fitr dish, though they are made in some form or the other all over the world. Thought to have originated in China, dumplings are a part of Afghan, Armenian, Turkish, Bosnian and central Asian cuisine. The Russian mantis are usually stuffed with spiced lamb or beef, and their size and shape vary across regions.
In short, the month of Ramadan is focused on introspection and restraint, and at the end of the month, Muslims everywhere celebrate with a feast. Eid Milan parties are held even in non-Islamic regions and countries by the Muslim community, and people of other religions join in the celebrations in a spirit of brotherhood.
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