Eid al-Fitri (“the feast after the fast”), a momentous occasion for Muslims worldwide is celebrated, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. The turn of the new Islamic month of Shawwal contains a culturally diverse celebration noteworthy to participate in if given the chance.
Because Eid stems from a religious practice, there are particular similarities of celebration in differing countries around the globe.
For example, performing Eid prayers in the early morning of Shawwal has always been a common denominator among the Muslim community worldwide. People commonly seek forgiveness from family and friends during Eid al-Fitri, for their wrongdoings that they may have conducted intentionally, as well as unintentionally. In countries where Islam is predominant, public holidays are established.
However, nothing beats the variety of Eid celebrations steeped in the richness of culture from each country. Let’s take a peek into the amazing diversity of the world and how the wonderful Eid al-Fitri is being commemorated across the oceans.
Egyptians visit their families on the first day of Eid, wearing their newest clothes throughout the celebration. Special gifts are given to the women in the family from their loved ones and children receive pocket money to spend on exciting activities for the next few days of Eid.
Amusement parks will be bustling with families, as children with their fresh threads rent decorated bicycles to ride around the town. In working neighbourhoods, carnivals are set up for kids to enjoy and participate with their friends.
Preparing for the Eid al-Fitri for Afghans can start as early as ten days prior, by cleaning up their homes. Locals will flock to bazaars selling latest clothes, treats and snacks.
After offering their Eid prayers on the first day of Shawwal, families will gather in their homes, exchanging happy greetings. Children will receive pocket money and presents from their elders. Throughout the day, children will go from door to door of homes in the neighbourhood, receiving cookies from each household. As the day enters into the night, campfires around the neighbourhood will be lit, illuminating the villages and towns.
In celebration of the new Islamic month, Muslims will be seen visiting bazaars and shopping malls with families purchasing food and clothes for the festival. Women and younger females will have their hands and feet decorated with the intricate designs of traditional Mehndi, or henna.
Donning their best and newest clothes, Muslims in India will celebrate their Eid with family members and their relatives, gathering and socializing while having a special feast with loved ones.
In two provincial-level regions of China, Ningxia and Xinjiang, public holidays of up to three days are established in celebration of Eid. In Xinjiang province, supplies of red meat (mutton, lamb and beef) are distributed to households by government agencies.
After the Eid communal prayers, Chinese Muslims will visit their ancestors’ graves as they clean them up and make food offerings. At the same time, they will also recite verses from the Qur’an, offering supplications and prayers for their ancestors.
United States of America
Muslims in the States will get together for prayers and celebrations. Much like other nations, they will generally visit each other’s homes on Eid, as well as hold large feasts in mosques or a community hall.
American Muslim children will receive gifts and because of the culturally and racially diverse nation, Muslims will be able to partake in feasts with the most widespread variety of palatable delicacies.
Wearing their finest clothes on Eid, Muslims conduct an Eid prayer, the first in the morning after the Fajr prayer. They will celebrate with feasts in community halls. There will also be visits to relatives or friends, sharing culturally differing food, whilst children receive presents and money.
Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei
In the South East Asian region, these four countries celebrate Eid al-Fitri nationwide in a similar fashion due to their culture being very similar. It’s a big deal in these nations, very much so that it steeps and plays into the country’s economy. Markets selling Eid-related goods and food start from the month of Ramadan and continues on into the month of Shawwal.
It is widely practiced that workers in the city will return to their hometown to celebrate with their families and ask forgiveness from the elders. It is a huge temporary migratory process. In Indonesia, it is termed as mudik, whilst for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, it is referred to as balik kampung.
Traditionally after the Eid al-Fitri mass prayers in mosques, Muslims will wear their best traditional clothes and visit their parents’ or grandparents’ homes. There, they will have a great feast with the family and relatives. In the next few days to a week, families and acquaintances will take turns in hosting an ‘open house’ where anyone can visit and mingle, as preparations of food are available to eat.
Children will look forward to receiving money inside envelopes from their elders as well as from visiting other people’s houses. As the day turns into night, you will most likely hear fireworks exploding in your neighbourhood.
The first day of Eid is unlike any other days of the Islamic months – it is the only day where you are prohibited to fast. The month of Shawwal isn’t just a time where you celebrate the momentous occasion of the completion of fasting, but also a time to seek forgiveness. A moment to rejoice, but also a moment to reflect.