For many Muslims around the world, today marks the end of the holy month of Ramadhan, a month of fasting, reflection and spiritual upliftment. Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated to give thanks to the blessed month of Ramadhan. The day is enjoyed by attending congregational Eid prayers and sharing meals and gifts with family and friends. Muslims also offer Zakat-ul-Fitr where the head of each household donates a certain amount of money (usually equating to the price of one meal) for each head in his/her family to the needy. Eid is celebrated by many different cultures around the world. We’ve put together some personal accounts from individuals of various cultures to provide intimate insights into the meaning of wishing one another an Eid Mubarak in different families, communities, and countries; Eid Mubarak to all of our followers!
‘The few times that I’ve celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr in my hometown Lucknow have been incredibly wholesome because we spend it with family and never-ending food! Typically, in the morning, the men of the family head to the mosque to pray the Eid namaz (prayers) while the women get ready.
Eid is a day of celebration and we do that best with food! We like to gather around our table of food as a family and my grandfather recites some surahs from the Qur’an and makes some dua (prayers). Biryani, nihari, kebabs, saweiyaan, ras gulla and gulab jamun – just a few of the delicacies we like to enjoy on this special occasion.
Later on in the day, we party hop in the mohallas (neighborhoods) from house to house, taking gifts, food and snacks to our neighbors and relatives. Oh and also, you must wear a new outfit on Eid!
I can’t imagine what Eid will be like for India this year. My prayers go out to all those who are unable to celebrate Eid during this difficult time’.
Words from Afshan Nasseri, @lifesforliving
‘Eid-ul-Fitr is a lot about putting your best forward. Grooming yourselves from the night before by cutting your nails, shaving – being clean. On the day, we shower and perfume ourselves and wear khamis (an ankle length garment similar to a robe or kaftan, for men), usually a white one. We attend the mosque for salat and give sadqa (charity). Afterwards, we congregate outside the mosque, wishing ‘Eid Mubarak’ to one another and exchanging gifts.
When we get home, it’s all about eating together as a family and sharing bigger presents. Since we’re so close to the Mediterranean, we usually have seafood for our meal in a tagine (slow cooked stew). For dessert, we usually have Qalb-e-louz, a traditional Algerian pastry made with almonds’.
Words from Zak Bougouizi.
‘On the night before Eid, Tunisian streets are bustling with celebration. Huge market stalls sell candy floss, clothing, jewellery, shoes and so much more! The stalls stay open until Fajr and crowds of families walk around having a good time, celebrating the end of the holy month and the oncoming of Eid.
On the day of Eid, you have salat-el-Eid of course, the Eid prayers. For breakfast, we usually have a dish called Assida, similar to Tanzanian Ugali, but sweeter with dates and lots of olive oil.
Later in the day, we get together with our families and eat some more, the kids play together and fight, and we all enjoy cups of tea. And that is the essence of Eid – family, food and celebration’.
Words from Hassan Ben Tiba.
‘Eid in Iraq is vibrant, happy and everything Eid should be. Despite everything that Iraq has been through, the people never give up or lose hope and that includes on a wonderful day such as Eid ul Fitr. It’s sadly been a long time since I’ve been to Iraq and I hope that changes soon but naturally we try to carry on some traditions here. In Iraq, Eid is synonymous with family and food which is no different if you were in Iraq or here.
One of the most common things associated with Eid in Iraq is our favourite date cookie ‘kleicha.’ Kleicha is one of the most delicious things in existence. It is infused with the wonderful flavor of cardamom which complements the sweetness of the dates. Every year, me, my mum and my sister get together to make a huge batch of these. Despite how many we make, they always go so quickly!!
It’s become a tradition for my family and I to get together and go out for a feast at our favorite Iraqi restaurant in London to mimic the food we’d have in Iraq. The restaurant is always hustling and bustling with British Iraqis which reminds us of home. The busy atmosphere, the aroma of Iraqi food and the warmness of our community. In Iraq it would also be very busy, the streets filled with people and that’s why we love the liveliness so much.
Another important Eid tradition which I believe exists across most cultures is the ‘Eidia.’ We don’t usually get gifts but rather we get money. Even though it’s supposed to be the kids, my grandparents always give me money on Eid despite the fact that I am 21 years old and no longer a kid.
Overall, Iraqi culture focuses on the warmth of Eid, the warmth that comes with being with family, the warmth that comes with good food and the warmth that comes with being around your community even when you’re miles away from home. Hopefully soon we can go back and celebrate in Iraq when the world gets better but for now we will continue to make do with our British-Iraqi traditions’.
Words from Rania Witwit.
‘The night before Eid is declared as “chaand raat” (Night of the moon sighting). The women get together at someone’s house and have a party, put mehndi (henna) on and celebrate. Many also go to market stalls that were decorated for Eid to buy colorful churiyaan (bangles) and mehndi.
Eid morning: Men go for Eid prayer. Before they go, all the men of our family come over to our house to have saweiyaan (a sweet dish made with vermicelli and milk) and breakfast. When they get back, everyone wears new clothes, visits people’s houses or goes to someone’s house for dinner. Taking pictures. With food, we make our nicest dishes that we’re in the mood for!’
Words from Misha Khan.
‘In Kenya, every household repaints their houses the day before Eid-ul-Fitr. We decorate our houses by replacing our carpets, curtains and bed covers with new ones. We cook and bake delicious treats like Mkate wa mayai (African sponge cake). The women and girls have henna designs done. On the day of Eid, men wear a kanzu (also known as Jubah or Thawb – an ankle length garment similar to a robe or kaftan, for men) and go for the Eid prayer.
After Eid prayer, the children get changed into new clothes and go for eidi money which is like trick or treating during Halloween. Depending on the house, you either get money or sweets. During the evening they change and go to the fun fair’.
Words from Amina.
Pankisi is an area in northeast Georgia home to an ethnic minority of Chechen muslims known as Kists. Eid is a very special time here and starts as soon as our first call to prayer. After completing prayers at our village mosque, we make our way to the cemetery. Here we pray in honor of our passed loved ones, ask God for peace and thank him for our patience and restraint. I remember when I was a child, families would gather at the cemetery and exchange sweets to all of the children. This is such a fond memory of mine but sadly this tradition isn’t practiced anymore.
Once our time of reflection is finished at the cemetery, we return home to finally break our fasting period and begin celebrations by visiting the surrounding villages for feasting! Some traditional food that you’ll find during our Eid celebration is jijig galanish, boiled dough bundles alongside dried meat; chepalgash, a flat bread filled with kurds or pumpkin; chechen khalva varieties, along with a mix of traditional Georgian dishes such as khinkali. During our Eid feasting period, we also prepare a traditional drink, nikh, by fermenting a mixture of flour and corn flour days prior to the festival along with our traditional nonalcoholic Kist beer.
Words from Nazy.