What is Eid and how does the day look like?

Because it was Eid, or Eid-ul-Fitr in full. Eid for dummies: its the Muslim equivalent of Christmas, kind of… and I want to write about it because more people should know about it. Cultural information helps us all.

Among the key festivals celebrated by practising Muslims, or people from Muslim backgrounds are these:

  • Eid ul Fitr: festival after the end of Ramzan, the month of fasting
  • Eid ul Azha: festival of sacrifice in remembrance Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to obey God’s command. Every Muslim household is supposed to distribute the meat of a lamb among the poor or give an equivalent amount of cash in charity.
  • Eid Milad: the birthday of the prophet Muhammad, celebrated primarily in South Asian nations

What happens on the day of Eid?

Eid is all about family, fun and food. You are on a marathon of attending lunches and dinners for about three days in a row.

Mehndi or Henna tattoos are popular among women on Chaand Raat, the night before Eid

A usual day of Eid looks like this:

  • Chaand Raat — or the night before Eid is more happening than Eid itself. Girls host their own Henna parties where they put Henna tattoos on each other, buy new bangles and temporary stalls are set up everywhere for street food, jewellery and gifts
  • the night before, iron your new Eid clothes — it's customary to get new traditional clothing for Eid, everyone dresses up to impress
  • on the day, wake up early and join the Eid congregation prayer as a social gathering
  • everyone is supposed to take out a fixed amount of charity
  • make special Eid sweets at home — in Pakistan, Sawiyaan (vermicelli with condensed milk and nuts) is a traditional favourite, the whole family eats that together before starting the day
  • children are given crisp new currency notes as ‘Eidi’ (eid gift!) and they spend it fearlessly on anything they like… and even Asian parents can’t do anything about it!
  • visit graves of near and dear as a family unit
  • get in the car and visit all your uncles, aunts, friends, sisters, brothers on short trips taking in a gallon of tea and a truckload of sweets by the time you are done
  • it is customary to visit sisters who are married on the day of Eid and give them loads of gifts and cash (not that the single ones don’t get anything but the married ones get special love)
  • host an Eid lunch or dinner, and attend quite a few of them — when all is done and dusted, you have gained quite a lot of weight!
Eid is all about food — with no end to it!

How to wish someone an Eid?

Eid is more cultural than a religious event. People who come from Muslim majority regions, irrespective of their religious beliefs celebrate Eid — after all who doesn’t want great food?

The most common greeting is Eid Mubarak which literally means have a blessed Eid. The Arabic equivalent is Eid Saeed, which means have a happy Eid.

Eid Mubarak, from our family to yours!

blogger, technologist, foodie, vagabond, avid reader, cricket-lover, and an activist focused on human rights and the case for the environment.

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