l’Aïd el-Fitr – Eid ul-Fitr – عيد الفطر (Arabic: عيد الفطر ‘Īdu ul-Fiṭr), often abbreviated to Eid, is a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. Eid is an Arabic word meaning “festivity”, while Fiṭr means “to break fast”; and so the holiday symbolizes the breaking of the fasting period. It is celebrated after the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan, on the first day of Shawwal.
Eid ul-Fitr lasts for three days of celebration and is sometimes also known as the “Smaller Eid” (Arabic: العيد الصغير al-‘īdu ṣ-ṣaghīr) as compared to the Eid ul-Adha that lasts four days and is called the “Greater Eid” (Arabic: العيد الكبير al-‘īdu l-kabīr).
Muslims are commanded by the Qur’an to complete their fast on the last day of Ramadan and then recite the Takbir all throughout the period of Eid[Qur'an 2:185 (Translated by Shakir)].
Common greetings during this holiday are the Arabic greeting ‘Īd mubārak (“Blessed Eid”) or ‘Īd sa‘īd (“Happy Eid”). In addition, many countries have their own greetings based on local language and traditions.
Typically, Muslims wake up early in the morning and have a small breakfast (as a sign of not being on a fast on that day) of preferably the date fruit, before attending a special Eid prayer (salah) that is performed in congregation at mosques or open areas like fields, squares etc. Muslims are encouraged to dress in their best clothes (new if possible) for the occasion. No adhan or iqama is to be pronounced for this Eid prayer, and it consists of only two raka’ahs. The Eid prayer is followed by the khutbah (sermon) and then a supplication (dua’) asking for forgiveness, mercy and help for all living beings across the world. The khutbah also instructs Muslims as to the performance of rituals of Eid, such as the zakat. It is then customary to embrace the persons sitting on either side of oneself, whilst greeting them. After the prayers, people also visit their relatives, friends and acquaintances and some people also pay visits to the graveyards (ziyarat al-qubur).
The Takbir and other Rituals
The Takbir is recited after having confirmation that the moon of Shawwal is sighted on the eve of the last day of Ramadan. It continues until the start of the Eid prayer. Before the Eid prayer begins, every Muslim who is able must pay Zakat al-fitr, an alms for the month of Ramadan. This equates to about 2 kilograms (4.4 lb) of a basic foodstuff (wheat, barley, dates, raisins, etc.), or its cash equivalent, and is typically collected at the mosque. This is distributed to needy local Muslims prior to the start of the Eid prayer. It can be given at any time during the month of Ramadan and is often given early, so the recipient can use it for Eid purchases. This is distinct from Zakat based on wealth, which must be paid to a worthy charity. The Takbir consists of:
Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar الله أكبر الله أكبر الله أكبر laa ilaaha illAllaah لا إله إلا الله Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar الله أكبر الله أكبر wa li-illaahil-hamd ولله الحمد
- God is the Greatest, God is the Greatest, God is the Greatest,
- There is no deity but God
- God is the Greatest, God is the Greatest
- and to God goes all praise
Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar الله أكبر الله أكبر laa ilaaha illAllaah لا إله إلا الله wAllaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar والله أكبر الله أكبر wa li-illaahil-hamd ولله الحمد alhamdulillaah `alaa maa hadaanaa, wa lahul-shukru `ala maa awlaanaa الحمدلله على ما هدانا و له الشكر على ما اولانا
- God is the Greatest, God is the Greatest,
- There is no deity but God
- and God is the Greatest, God is the Greatest
- and to God goes all praise, (We) sing the praises of God because He has shown us the Right Path. (We) gratefully thank Him because He takes care of us and looks after our interests.
Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the fasting of Ramadan. This has to do with the communal aspects of the fast, which expresses many of the basic values of the Muslim community. Fasting is believed by some scholars to extol fundamental distinctions, lauding the power of the spiritual realm, while acknowledging the subordination of the physical realm.
The Islamic tradition also associates events with the occasion. For example, on Eid al-Fitr, the angel Gabriel descended with white clothes for each of prophet Muhammad’s grandsons.
Practices by country
Afghanistan is a Muslim country and religion plays a very important part in the way of life. Afghans observe all religious days and festivals, which are based on the lunar calendar. The two most important festivals are Eid-ul-Fitr (also called Eid-e-Ramazan) and Eid-e-Qorban (sometimes called Eid-ul-Adha).
Eid-ul-Fitr, marks the end of Ramadaan, the month of fasting. Children receive new clothing and families visit relatives and friends. Presents are not exchanged but in recent years the practice of sending Eid cards has increased considerably.
Eid-e-Qorban is the major festival marking the end of the Haj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, and lasts for four days. Again, children receive new clothing and friends and relatives are visited. At each Eid, tea, nuts, sweets and sugared almonds called noql are served to visitors and guests. Often special sweets and pastries are also prepared; halwa-e-swanak, sheer payra, goash-e-feel and others. Many Afghans sacrifice a lamb or calf at Eid-e-Qorban, which takes its name from the word qorban, meaning sacrifice. The meat is distributed among the poor, relatives and neighbours.
There is a Khutbah (sermon) in which the Imam gives advice to the Muslim community and usually Muslims are encouraged to end any past animosities they may have. He then goes on to the khutbah and then the prayer itself. When the local imam declares Eid ul-Fitr everyone greets and hugs each other. As Eid ul-Fitr is not a recognised public holiday in the United Kingdom, Muslims are obliged to attend the morning prayer. In a large ethnically Muslim area, normally schools and local businesses give exemptions to the Muslim community to take three days off. In the rest of the UK it is not recognised as it is not on a fixed date as it is decided by the sighting of the moon on the night before.
During the morning, men (mainly South Asian) usually wear Thobe, Jubba, Sharwani or Punjabi, and women usually wear shalwar kameez. Men go to the mosque for the Eid prayers, after which people greet each other. After this many will go to a local cemetery to pay respect and to remember the deceased. When they return home they will greet the family and friend and also other Muslims and visit relatives across the city. People cook traditional food for their relatives. Dishes such as Samosas, Simeya,Rice and Handesh are particularly popular.
North American Muslims typically celebrate the day in a quiet way. Because the day depends on the sighting of the moon, often families are not aware that the next day will be Eid until the night before. Most check with members of the community to see if the moon has been sighted by anyone. Different methods for determining the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Shawwal are used in each particular community. Because the day is determined by the natural phenomenon of sighting the crescent moon, North Americans on the eastern coast of the continent may celebrate Eid on a different day than those on the western coast.
The end of Ramadan is announced via e-mail, postings on websites, or chain phone calls to all members of a Muslim community. Working persons usually attempt to make arrangements for a lighter work day on the days that may possibly be the Eid day, but many North American Muslims are often noted to not be able to take the entire day off.
North American Muslims usually wake early, have a small breakfast and attend mosques for the Eid prayers.
New York City’s iconic Empire State Building was lit in green in honor of Eid-al-Fitr from October 12-14, 2007. 
Traditional Bayram wishes from the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, stating “Let us love, Let us be loved”, in the form of mahya lights stretched across the minarets of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul
In the Republic of Turkey, where Ramadan celebrations are infused with more national traditions, and where country-wide celebrations, religious and secular alike, are altogether referred to as Bayram, it is customary for people to greet one another with “Bayramınız Kutlu Olsun” (“May Your Bayram Be Celebrated”), “Mutlu Bayramlar” (“Happy Bayram”), or the more religious “Bayramınız Mübarek Olsun” (May Your Bayram Be Holy”, i.e. “Holy Bayram Upon You”), while enjoying a number of local customs.
Referred to as both Şeker Bayramı (“Bayram of Sweets”) or Ramazan Bayramı (“Ramadan Bayram”), Eid in Turkey is a beloved public holiday, where schools and government offices are generally closed for the entire period of the celebrations.
It is a time for people to attend prayer services, put on their best clothes (referred to as “Bayramlık”, often purchased just for the occasion) and to visit all their loved ones (such as friends, relatives and neighbors) and pay their respects to the deceased with organized visits to cemeteries, where large, temporary bazaars of flowers, water (for watering the plants adorning a grave), and prayer books are set up for the three-day occasion. The first day of the Bayram is generally regarded as the most important, with all members of the family waking up early, and the men going to their neighborhood mosque for the special Bayram prayer.
It is regarded as especially important to honor elderly citizens by kissing their right hand and placing it on one’s forehead while wishing them Bayram greetings. It is also customary for young children to go around their neighborhood, door to door, and wish everyone a happy Bayram, for which they are awarded candy, chocolates, traditional sweets such as Baklava and Turkish Delight, or a small amount of money at every door, in an almost Halloween-like fashion.
Municipalities all around the country organize fundraising events for the poor, in addition to public shows such as concerts or more traditional forms of entertainment such as the Karagöz and Hacivat shadow-theatre and even performances by the Mehter – the Janissary Band that was founded during the days of the Ottoman Empire.
Helping the less fortunate, ending past animosities and making up, organizing breakfasts and dinners for loved ones and putting together neighborhood celebrations are all part of the joyous occasion, where homes and streets are decorated and lit up for the celebrations, and television and radio channels continuously broadcast a variety of special Bayram programs, which include movie specials, musical programming and celebratory addresses from celebrities and politicians alike.
In the predominantly Shia culture of Iran, Eid is a highly personal event, and celebrations are often more muted. Called Eyde Fetr by most Iranians, charity is important on that day. Visiting the elderly and gathering with families and friends is also very common. Typically, each Muslim family gives food to those in need. Payment of fitra or fetriye is obligatory for each Muslim. Often meat or ghorbani (literally translated as sacrifice, for it is usually a young lamb or calf that is sacrificed for the occasion), which is an expensive food item in Iran, will be given by those in wealthier families to those who have less. The offering of meat is generally a part of the Eid-ul-Azha celebrations and sacrifices (Kurbani) are generally not given during the Eid-ul-fitr celebrations.
Public Eid prayers are held in every Mosque and in public places. The biggest prayer is held in Mosalla (a spacious place for prayer) where the Supreme Leader leads the prayer.
In Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal, the night before Eid is called Chand Raat, which means, night of the moon. People often visit bazaars and shopping malls, with their families and children, for last minute Eid shopping. Women, especially young girls, often paint each others’ hands with traditional “henna” and wear colourful bangles.
During Eid, the traditional greeting is Eid Mubarak, and frequently also includes a formal embrace. Gifts are frequently given—new clothes are traditional—and it is also common for children to be given small sums of money (Eidi) by their elders.It is common for children to “salam” parents and adult relatives, they usually get money from the adult relative, if the family is middle class or wealthy.
After the Eid prayers, it is common for families to visit graveyards and pray for the salvation of departed family members.
Special celebratory dishes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, and Fiji include sivayyan, a dish of fine, toasted sweet vermicelli noodles with milk & dried fruit. In Bangladesh, the dish is called shemai.
Some people also avail themselves of this opportunity to distribute Zakat, the Islamic obligatory alms tax on one’s wealth, to the needy.
In India the some popular places where Muslims congregate to celebrate Eid at this time are the Jama Masjid in New Delhi, in Kolkata there is a prayer held on the Red Road. People can be spotted in thousands, there is a lot of excitement in the celebration of this festival. Eid is a public holiday and is celebrated all over India. Even non-Muslims visit their Muslim friends on this occasion, to convey their good wishes.
Unlike rest of the Muslim world, South Asians celebrate Eid-ul-fitr for three days.
Eid Ul-Fitr meal, Malaysia
In Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, Eid is also commonly known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Hari Raya Idul Fitri or Hari Raya Puasa. Hari Raya literally means ‘Celebration Day’. Muslims in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore celebrate Eid like other Muslims throughout the world. It is the biggest holiday in Indonesia and one of the biggest in Malaysia and is the most awaited one. Shopping malls and bazaars are filled with people days ahead of Hari Raya, causing a distinctive festive atmosphere throughout the country. Many banks, government and private offices are closed for this holiday.
The night before Eid is with the takbir which is held in the mosques or musallas. In many parts of Indonesia as well as Malaysia, especially in rural areas, pelita or panjut or lampu colok (as known by Malay-Singaporeans) (oil lamps, similiar to tiki torches) are lit up and placed outside and around the house. Eid also witnesses a huge temporary migratory pattern of Muslims, from big metropolitan cities to rural areas to celebrate the Eid with family members because the majority of Muslims are from rural areas. This is known as balik kampung in Malaysia or mudik in Indonesia — it means going back to the hometown. Special dishes like ketupat, dodol, lemang (a type of glutinous rice cake cooked in bamboo) and other Indo-Malay (and in the case of Malaysia, also Nyonya) delicacies are served during this day.
It is common to greet people with “Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri” or “Salam Aidilfitri” (in Malaysia) which means “Happy Eid”. Muslims also greet one another with “mohon maaf lahir dan batin” in Indonesia and “maaf zahir dan batin” in Malaysia, which means “Forgive my physical and emotional (wrongdoings)”, because Eid ul-Fitr is not only for celebrations but also the time for Muslims to ask for forgiveness for any sin which they may have committed but was cleansed as a result of the fasting in the Muslim month of Ramadan.
It is customary for Muslim-Indonesians and Muslim-Malaysians to wear traditional cultural outfits on the Eid. The outfit for men is called baju melayu or baju koko which is worn together with kain samping (made out of songket) and songkok (a dark coloured headgear); in Indonesia the men will usually wear pants with similar color to the shirt or (normal black pants) and a (black head cover called) [Peci]. The women in Indonesia and Malaysia wear what is known as baju kurung and baju kebaya. It is a common practice however for the Muslim-Malays in Singapore to refer to the baju kurung in reference to the type of outfit, worn by men.
For the non-Malay Muslims, they would sometimes don costumes that are peculiar to their respective culture and tradition.
Once the prayer is completed, it is also common for Muslims in Indonesia and Malaysia to visit the graves of loved ones. During this visit, they clean the grave, recite Ya-Seen, a chapter (surah) from the Qur’an and also perform the tahlil ceremony. All these are done to ask God to forgive the dead and also those who are living for all their sins.
The rest of the day is spent visiting relatives or serving visitors. Eid ul-Fitr is a very joyous day for children for on this day adults are especially generous. In Malaysia, children will be given token sums of money, also known as “duit raya,” from their parents or elders.
In Indonesia there is a special ritual called halal bi-halal. During this, Muslim-Indonesians visit their elders, in the family, the neighborhood, or their work, and show respect to them. They will also seek reconciliation (if needed), and preserve or restore harmonious relations.
Burmese Muslims’ way of celebrating Eid
Burma or Myanmar
In Burma/Myanmar Eid ul-Fitr lasts for only one day of celebration for the Burmese Muslims. We call this day as Eid Nei’ (Nei’=day) or Eid Ka Lay (Ka Lay=small) or Shai Mai Eid (because Shai Mai or sayviah/ sweet vermicelli served with fried cashews, coconut shreds, raisins with milk is the main Burmese Muslim traditional food cooked during the Burmese Muslim Eids).
Although it is never a gazetted public holiday in Myanmar, most of the bosses have an understanding on the Burmese Muslims and usually even willing to give an unrecorded holiday to the Muslim staff. And they even used to take time off during the office hour to visit their Muslim staff usually also accompanied by other non-Muslim staff under them.
As there is no single Islamic authority in Myanmar to give a decision, it is sometimes difficult to get an agreement about the sighting of the moon for the Eid or the start of Ramadan. So even in a small town or a village, Eid could be celebrated on different days. So it is difficult for the successive governments to declare a holiday on Eid ul-Fitr.
But the Eid al-Adha “Festival of Sacrifice” or “Greater Eid” is a gazetted public Holiday. Burmese Muslims could celebrate as this annually falls on the 10th day of the month of Dhul Hijja (ذو الحجة) of the lunar Islamic calendar. The festivities last for one day only in Burma. It is easy for the Myanmar governments to declare a holiday because sighting of the moon is ten day’s earlier and the Eid al-Adha could be celebrate for three days. Usually they fixed the date following the Saudi authorities as Haj is more important for all of us.
Burmese Muslims are used to recite the Takbir during the prayers at Mosques, not loudly, all throughout the three day’s period of Eid.
Burmese Muslims are from Hanafi sect of Sunni Muslims. So we perform EidSalaah as Wajib (necessary and therefore to deliberately miss them is a sin) Namaz (Salaah) two rakat with six extra Takbirs only.
During Eid, the traditional greeting is giving Salaam only or sometimes saying Eid Mubarak. We say Assalamualaikum from the mouth and put our right hand on the forehead as if giving a salute, but usually there is no shaking hands and rarely only includes a formal embrace. Gifts or foods are frequently given to the elder relatives and even non-Muslim bosses and authorities, new clothes are traditionally meant for the family members and the workers or staff only but Burmese Muslim elders used to give Eidi to all the children. Children used to get more from their parents, quite a lot from the wealthy near relatives and friends but at least a token sum of small amount of money even from the strangers especially if they go around the neighborhood in groups purposely just to collect Eidi.
It is common for children and young people to go around giving “salaam” to parents, elder relatives and other elders in the neighborhood. During the Eid Burmese Muslims used to ask forgiveness from elders and try to forgive and forget the misunderstandings amongst each other. Asking for forgiveness is usually done to the parents and elders.
The followings are the delicacies Burmese Muslims usually cook for the Eid:
- Burmese Muslims bake the Sa-Nwin-Ma-Kin or Burmese Semolina Cake  or Semolina Pudding or (Kuih) Sooji, using Sooji (Semolina), eggs, cream of wheat (Semolina), coconut cream, sugar, raisins and milk. It is topped with sesame seeds and baked with the charcoal slow fire above and below to made them like brownie golden cakes.
- This is also made as a delicacies called Halwa(In Burma this is referred to a loose form,something like smashed potato)without baking into a hard or firmer cake.
- Danbauk [dan pauʔ]) Htamin or Burmese Biryani  Burmese-style biryani with either chicken or mutton served with mango pickle, fresh mint and green chili. It is also a Burmese Muslim favorite food cooked during Eid. Popular ingredients are cashew nuts, yogurt, raisins and peas, chicken, cloves, cinnamon, saffron and bay leaf. In Burmese biryani, the chicken is cooked with the rice. Biryani is also eaten with a salad of sliced onions and cucumber.
- Htawbat htamin, rice made with butter and mostly eaten with chicken curry.
- Various types of Khow suey, Burmese Khow Suey – Indian Style , are famous.
- Panthay khao swè [panθei kʰauʔ swɛ]), halal noodles with chicken and spices, often served by Chinese Muslims
- Ohn-no khao swè [ounnouʔ kʰauʔswɛ]), curried chicken and wheat noodles in a coconut milk broth similar to Malaysian laksa and Chiang Mai’s khao soi
- Seejet khao swè [sʰi tʃʰɛʔ kʰauʔ swɛ]), wheat noodles with duck or pork, fried garlic oil, soy sauce and chopped spring onions
- Jin thohk [dʒin θouʔ]), ginger salad with sesame seeds
- Jarzan hin, [dʒazan hin]) glass noodle soup with chicken, wood-ear mushrooms, dried flowers, onions, boiled egg, garnished with coriander, thin-sliced onions, crushed dried chilli and a dash of lime (Mandalay).
- Jauk-kyaw [tʃaoʔtʃau]), agar jelly usually set in two layers with coconut milk.
- Montletsaung [moun̰leʔsʰaun]), tapioca balls, glutinous rice, grated coconut and toasted sesame with jiggery syrup in coconut milk
- Samusa [sʰa mu sʰa̰]), Burmese-style samosa with mutton and onions served with fresh mint, green chilli, onions and lime
- Samusa thohk [sʰa mu sʰa̰ θouʔ]), samosa salad with onions, cabbage, fresh mint, potato curry, masala, chili powder, salt and lime.
- Shai Mai or Sa Wai or sayviah/ sweet vermicelli served with fried cashews, coconut shreds, raisins with milk is the main Burmese Muslim traditional food cooked during the Burmese Muslim Eids)
Sometimes Burmese Muslims pray or perform Eid salah (we called Eid Namaz)at Eidgah or Idgah at the open spaces outside or in the cities. Usually Burmese Muslim women are not allowed to pray together at the Masjids or Eidgah.
Traditionally Burmese Muslim women are also not allowed to enter the graveyards.
Burmese Muslims are usually forbidden by the religious authorities from decorating their homes with the lights, lamps or colourful electric bulbs. Both the children and the adults are also advised by the religious elders not to celebrate with the fireworks and firecrackers. Wishing friends and relatives with the Eid cards or sending Eid cards through internet is just a newly acquired culture for the Burmese Muslims.
Philippines, with a majority Christian population, has recognized Eid ul-Fitr as a regular holiday by virtue of Republic Act No. 9177 and signed on November 13, 2002. The law was enacted in deference to the Muslim-Filipino community and to promote peace among major religions in the Philippines. The first public holiday was set on December 6, 2002.
In China, out of 56 officially recognized ethnic groups, Eid ul-Fitr is celebrated by 10 ethnic groups that practice Islam which amount to 18 million of the total population according to official statistics. It is also a public holiday in China in certain regions, including two province prefecture level regions, Ningxia and Xinjiang. All residents in these areas are entitled of either a one-day or three-day holiday. Whereas outside the Muslim regions, only Muslims have a one-day holiday. In Xinjiang particularly, Eid ul-Fitr is even celebrated by Han Chinese population during which holiday supply such as mutton and beef is distributed to households as part of welfare scheme by government agencies, public and private institutions or businesses.
In the Yunnan province, Muslims are spread throughout the region. On Eid ul-Fitr, however, they travel to Sayyid ‘Ajjal’s grave, after their communal prayers. First there are readings from the Qur’an, then the tomb is cleaned (reminiscent of the historic annual Chinese Qingming festival in which people go their ancestors’ graves, sweep and clean the area and then make food offerings). Finally the accomplishments of the Sayyid ‘Ajall are told. In conclusion, a special service is held to honor the hundreds of thousands of Muslims killed during the Qing dynasty, and the hundreds killed during the Cultural Revolution.
They celebrate Eid in many countries in Africa.
Tunisia sees three to four days of celebration, with preparations starting several days earlier. Special biscuits are made to give to friends and relatives on the day. we can mention “Baklawa” and several kinds of “kaak”. The men will go to the mosque early in the morning, while the women either go with them or prepare their children with new outfits and toys to celebrate as well as a big family lunch generally in parents house.
In Cape Town, hundreds of people gather at Green Point for the sighting of the moon on the last day of Ramadan each year. The gathering brings together people from all walks of life, and everyone comes with something to share with others at the time of breaking the fast. The Magrib prayer is then conducted and the sighting of the moon is announced thereafter.
The Day of Eid ul-Fitr is celebrated by first attending the Mosque for Eid prayer. This is followed by visiting neighbours and family. Children receive presents and money from elder members of the family, relatives and neighbours. Most people wear new clothes with bright colours, while biscuits, cakes, samoosas, pies and tarts are presented to visitors as treats. Lunch is usually served in large family groups.
Nigeria is a secular environment. Therefore, as Muslims celebrate the festival, Christians also participate. the Eid is popularly known as “Small Sallah” and people generally greet each other with “Barka De Sallah” which means greetings on sallah in Hausa language. People Celebrate by observing the Eid prayer at designated praying grounds and then retire home to eat meals prepared by the women. The Federal holiday is typically 2 days in Nigeria. Nigerians travel to their respective hometowns irrespective of their religions during this Sallah especially if the holiday is continuous with a weekend.
In the Gregorian calendar
Although Eid ul-Fitr is always on the same day of the Islamic calendar, the date on the Gregorian calendar falls approximately 11 days earlier each successive year, since the Islamic calendar is lunar and the Gregorian calendar is solar. Eid may also vary from country to country depending on whether the moon has been sighted or not. The future dates for the US are estimated at:
- 2009: 21 September
- 2010: 10 September
- 2011: 31 August
- 2012: 19 August
- 2013: 8 August
- 2014: 29 July
- 2015: 19 July
Eid ul-Fitr begins the night before each of the above dates, at sunset.
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Children and old folks are given duit raya or gifts of money, in small envelopes. In recent years, many givers have opted for the Chinese practice of putting the money in ang pow packets; however instead of the usual red, the packets are green in colour.
This is also a time to forgive and forget past quarrels. Asking for pardon is done in order of seniority. The younger members of a family approach their elders (parents, grandparents etc) to seek forgiveness, to salam (Muslim equivalent of a handshake), then kiss the hands of the older person as a sign of respect.
The usual greeting (that is uttered with the salam) during Aidilfitri is “Selamat Hari Raya”, which means “Wishing you a joyous Hari Raya”.
Although the first three days are celebrated on a grander scale, many Muslims hold “open house” throughout the month, where friends and neighbours of other races are invited to join in the celebrations.
Hari Raya Puasa
Muslims celebrate the festival of Aidilfitri – popularly known as Hari Raya Puasa, or simply Hari Raya (Day of Celebration) in Malaysia – to mark the culmination of Ramadhan, the holy month of fasting.
It is a joyous occasion for Muslims, as it signifies a personal triumph, a victory of self-restraint and abstinence, symbolising purification and renewal.
Fasting during the month of Ramadhan is compulsory or wajib, whereby Muslims are required to abstain from satisfying their most basic needs and urges, daily, between sunrise and sunset. It is one of the five tenets of Islam; as is the paying of zakat (alms tax for the poor), which must be tithed by the end of Ramadhan.
In Malaysia, the period of fasting ends when the new moon is sighted on the evening of the last day of Ramadhan. The actual sighting is conducted by state appointed religious officials at various vantage points (usually at hilltops) throughout the country.
If the crescent is sighted, the following day is then declared the first day of Aidilfitri, which is also the beginning of the 10th month of the Muslim calendar Syawal.
A time to forgive and forget
Aidilfitri is celebrated for the whole month of Syawal, but in Malaysia, only the first two days are observed as public holidays. It is widely common however, to see Muslims taking the first week off from work.
Urbanites make their annual pilgrimage to their hometowns (this is popularly referred to as balik kampung), to be with parents, relatives and old friends. Thus, cities like Kuala Lumpur get relatively quiet during the festive season of Aidilfitri.
The Muslim community ushers in the first day of Aidilfitri by congregating at mosques for morning prayers. Everyone is usually decked out in their traditional best to mark the special occasion. Men are usually dressed in Baju Melayu, while the Baju Kurung, the quintessential Malay attire for females, is the prefered choice for the fairer sex.
Then it’s usually breakfast at home with the family, followed by a visit to the cemetery where deceased loved ones are remembered; graves are cleaned and cleared of overgrowth, and prayers are offered to Allah.
Before the big day
The joy of Hari Raya Puasa actually begins before the first day. A week or so before the big day, excitement mounts as the house is readied for the celebration with new furnishing and decorations.
Of particular interest are the last 10 days of Ramadan, where many keep vigil for Lailatul Qadr (The Night of Decree), the night when the Quran was sent down. It is believed that angels descend and shower blessings on that particular night, so homes are brightly decorated with oil lamps or pelita.
Mosques, as well as government and some commercial buildings, are also decorated and brightly lit to mark the auspicious day. The most predominant colour seen in decorations during this season is green which is commonly associated with Islamic items. It is often combined with yellow or gold.
As for motifs, by far the most frequently used symbol is that of the ketupat (rice cakes wrapped in coconut leaves); it is invariably used on Hari Raya greeting cards, hanging decorative items, and as a promotional image for the season.
The ketupat is traditional Hari Raya fare and is often served with beef rendang (beef cooked with spices and coconut milk) and/or satay (grilled meat on a skewer).
Other festive delicacies include lemang (glutinous rice cooked in bamboo tubes), serunding (dessicated coconut fried with chilli) and curry chicken.