“Eid al-Fitr”, commonly known as the “Ramadan Festival”, is an important religious festival celebrated by Muslims all around the world. The festival marks the end of a period of fasting, during which Muslims fast from dawn to dusk everyday, for an entire month. Hence, after a month of sacrifice, a celebration is logical. It is a day to enjoy, a day to spread love and for the majority of us, the day we gain every ounce of weight we lost during the past 30 days.
What is Ramadan about?
Ramadan is an entire month during which Muslims focus on purifying themselves, getting closer to God and growing their knowledge and faith. Fasting includes refraining from food, drink, bad language and bad behavior. It is not simply starving and dehydrating ourselves, as is the common understanding.
The month of Ramadan can be considered as a mini boot-camp in which we arm ourselves, by reading the Qur’an and modifying our diet, increasing our good deeds and committing more acts of worship, aiming towards spiritual development. By fasting, we become more sympathetic towards the less fortunate because we feel what it is like to go without food or drink. In turn this should cause us to be more generous and charitable. It also helps to bring us together with family, friends and neighbours. We break our fasts together and share food among ourselves. It unites us as a community while bringing us closer to God by offering more acts of worship such as tarawehyah prayers (extra prayer offered every night in Ramadan).
Why and How do we Celebrate?
After such an extensive training session a celebration is only logical. This is where Eid al-Fitr comes in. It is a celebration that marks the successful completion of Ramadan and the newly renewed spiritual cleansing and connection.
Muslims begin the day early morning, with a quick bath and a new set of clothes (or at least the best set of clothes we own) and then head out to the mosque for the Eid prayer (or Festival prayer).
The festival is associated with sweets and exchanging of gifts. Sweets of various kinds are a common feature of this festival. Boondi, Muscat and Watalappan are some traditional food items that are usually seen in every house.
During the course of the day, we visit relatives’ houses, where we greet each other with the ‘salaam’ (something that looks like a handshake but using both hands instead). We exchange gifts and bond with one another over a plate full of sweets meats.
With nightfall, the day of celebration passes on. We are back to our normal, mundane life but hopefully as better, kinder, more charitable and god-fearing persons than we were, a month earlier.
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