Ramadan is a challenging and rewarding time for Muslims around the world, and they are rewarded for their devotion with a holiday that all but mandates festivity and cheer. Eid ul-Fitr begins the day after Ramadan ends and marks the start of the month Shawwal and, like Ramadan, is officially begun when the moon has entered the proper phase. Eid ul-Fitr is the most widely celebrated of all Muslim holidays and espouses family, celebration, and above all, unity.
During this 3 day celebration, all Muslims are be viewed as equal and united under their common faith, putting aside differences in social status, wealth, and even citizenship in order to join together in celebration. Thus, all men will pray together and embrace one another, regardless of any differences between them. In this vein, it is common practice in Pakistan for wealthier people to give money to charities, or even directly help a family who is less fortunate so that they may also be able to celebrate. Eid is also a time for forgiveness: Muslims are encouraged to put past animosities behind them and resolve conflicts that have occurred throughout the year.Eid ul-Fitr has many traditions that cross all national lines, but celebrations are also unique from country to country and regional celebrations are combined with those traditional to the holiday. Festivities in Pakistan often begin the night before Eid is set to start, an evening called Chaand Raat (Night of the moon), when Muslims visit bazaars and shopping malls to do their Eid shopping. Women often apply traditional Mehndi, or hena, on their hands and feet and don bangles. During the early hours of the next morning, Muslims rise before the sun and bathe, brush their teeth, apply perfume, and dress in new clothing. Many in prefer to wear traditional garb, such as the shalwar qameez, and it can become nearly impossible to find a tailor in Pakistan who has a free moment leading up to Eid. Once everyone is ready, families go together to the location where prayer will be offered (typically in a large hall or open field). After offering this special Eid prayer, men will often embrace one another as a sign of solidarity and well wishes.
Many traditions center on family. Families prepare meals together and invite family and friends into their home to share a wide variety of dishes to celebrate the ending of the fast. Eid ul-Fitr is also known as “sweet Eid”, because sweet dishes such as kheer, sheer khurma, and pulao are typically served. It is common practice to bring a cake when visiting someone’s home, meaning ambitious hosts can end this celebration with as many as 20 cakes in their kitchen! Children especially enjoy this time of year because they can expect to receive small gifts and “eidi”, money in the form of new bills, from the older members of their family which they collect and eagerly spend in the markets which are often decorated for the holiday with lights and flowers. TV stations air many special holiday programs and there is a large outpour of new movies into theaters for families and friends to enjoy together. Family is of the utmost importance during this time, which is why everyone in Pakistan enjoys time off work and school during this time so that they can put their busy life on hold and spend time with their families, eating, shopping, and celebrating all together. It is a time of merriment, celebration, and unity. As a Muslim state, Eid is of incredible importance to Pakistan and the country rises as one to celebrate: unity of family, unity of faith, unity of nation.
Banner image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cover_Photo_Faisal_Masjid.jpg Author: Azhartabish
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mehndi_henna_design.jpg Author: Rangbaz
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Istiqlal_Mosque_Eid_ul_Fitr_Jamaah_1.JPG Author: Gunawan Kartapranata