EID: Fasting and Celebration
World Celebrations This Month
All over the world, Muslims are called to observe the month of Ramadhan, a time of fasting in preparation for their new year celebration, Eid-Al-Fitri or also known as Hari Raya. The dates of “Eid” follows the lunar calendar and it falls in May this year.
EID, or the festival of the sacrifice, means “celebration” or “feast” or “festival”. Each year, Muslims celebrate two festivals, Eid-al-Fitr and Eid-al-Adha. This practice originated in Medina, after the Muslim’s Prophet Muhammad migrated from Mecca to Medina in the 600s.
Why are there two Eids?
Eid-al-Fitr means the festival of the breaking of the fast. This is celebrated at the end of Ramadan, after a month of fasting from food and water, from sunrise to dawn. During this month, the phrase “Eid Mubarak” is often heard which translates to “blessed feasting” or “blessed feast”.
Traditionally, Eid al-Fitr begins at sunset on the night of the first sighting of the crescent moon. Some of the important observations include prayers and the giving of alms (zakat) to the poor. Embraced by all Muslims around the globe, a large feast is thrown at the end of the fasting month, with delicacies prepared days in advance.
In South Asia, the Eid celebrations are known as Hari Raya (literally translated as the “Day of Celebration”). A common practice is to seek forgiveness for wrongdoings over the previous year, in hope for reconciliation. Of recent tradition, Muslims may exchange green packets containing money given to children – which is why children particularly are fond of this festival, amongst other reasons, such as food and the fireworks.
Instead, Eid-al-Adha, the festival of sacrifice is celebrated two months later and coincides with the end of the Hajj – an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. For those who can afford it, Muslims are encouraged to make this trip at least once in their lives.
Over the month of May, Muslims have been fasting and are looking forward to celebrating this feast with their family and friends. Due to the COVID travel restrictions, our thoughts are with those who are unable to be reconciled with their loved ones and celebrate this festival together.