Welcome to another edition of English Corner, my name is Rifki Kusmana. With Eid al-Fitr passing us, I started making this article about Eid celebrations around the world, now that it’s done, please enjoy. An Indonesian translation is available here.
Eid al-Fitr celebrations around the world
Eid al-Fitr has passed us, but today, I will be writing about how muslims around the world celebrate it, let’s start with how Indonesians celebrate it.
Eid is known in Indonesia as Hari Raya Idul Fitr or colloquially as Lebaran, It is a national holiday in Indonesia. People return to their hometown (An exodus known as Mudik) to celebrate with their families and to ask forgiveness from parents, in-laws, and other elders. Festivities start the night before with chanting the Takbir and lighting lamps. At least one before the day itself, or before Eid prayer in the morning, zakat alms for the poor are distributed in the mosques. People gather with family and neighbors in traditional clothing and have a special Lebaran meal. It is common for Muslims in Indonesia to visit the graves of relatives to ritually clean the grave. Muslims also visit the living in a special ritual called Halal bi-Halal sometime during or several days after Idul Fitri.
In Turkey, nationwide celebrated holidays are referred to as bayram, and Eid al-Fitr is referred to as both Ramazan Bayramı (“Ramadan Bayram”) and Şeker Bayramı (“Bayram of Sweets/Sugar”). 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), visit all their loved ones (such as relatives, neighbors, and friends), and pay their respects to the deceased with organised visits to cemeteries. 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.
Saudis decorate their homes and prepare sumptuous meals for family and friends. They prepare new clothes and shoes for the festival. Eid festivities in Saudi Arabia may vary culturally depending on the region, but one common thread in all celebrations is generosity and hospitality. It is a common Saudi tradition for families to gather at the patriarchal home after the Eid prayers. Before the special Eid meal is served, young children will line up in front of each adult family member, who dispense money as gifts to the children.
In Sudan, where 97% of the population is Muslim, preparations for Eid begin the last few days of Ramadan. For days, ka’ak (sugar powdered cookies), bettifour (dry baked goods including dainty biscuits, baked meringues and macaroons—whose name are derived from the French petit four), and popcorn are baked in large batches to serve to guests and to give to family and friends; dressy Eid clothes are either shopped for or sewn; girls and women decorate their hands and feet with henna; and parts of the house may even be painted. The night before Eid, the whole household partakes in cleaning the house and yard and setting out the finest bedsheets, table cloths, and decorations. On the day of Eid, men and boys (and occasionally women and girls) will attend the Eid prayer. For the next 3 days, families will then visit each other, extended family, neighbors, and close friends. In these short visits, the baked goods, chocolates, and sweets are served, and often large lunches are prepared for the visiting well-wishers. Children are given gifts, either in the form of toys or money.
Eid is a public holiday in India. The holiday begins after the sighting of the new moon on Chand Raat. On that evening, people head to markets to finish their shopping for Eid, for clothing and gifts, and begin preparing their food for the next day. Traditional Eid food often includes biriyani, sheer khurma, and sivayyan, a dish of fine, toasted sweet vermicelli noodles with milk and dried fruit, among other regionally-specific dishes. Women and girls also put henna on each others’ hands. In the following morning, Muslims go to their local mosque or Eidgah for Eid Namaz and give Eid zakat before returning home. Afterwards, children are given Eidi (cash gifts) and friends and relatives visit each others homes to eat and celebrate.
In Pakistan, Eid al-Fitr is also referred to as چھوٹی عید, chhotī īd, ‘the Lesser Eid’ or میٹھی عید, mīṭhī īd, ‘Sweet Eid’. People are supposed to give obligatory charity on behalf of each of their family members to the needy or poor before Eid day or, at most, before the Eid prayer, allowing for all to share in the joy of Eid. At home, family members enjoy a special Eid breakfast with various types of sweets and desserts, including Kheer and the traditional dessert Sheer Khurma, which is made of vermicelli, milk, butter, dry fruits, and dates. Eid is especially enjoyed by the kids, as they receive money in cash called “Eidi” as gift from their relatives and elders. People tend to get fresh and crisp banknotes to gift children with. State Bank of Pakistan issues fresh currency notes every year for this purpose.
The preparation for Eid in Bangladesh starts from the last quarter of the holy month of Ramadan. The markets and shopping malls become overwhelmed with people. Those who live away from their families for their job or livelihood, they return to their home towns and villages to celebrate the festival with family members and relatives. In the Chaand Raat children gather at the open field to see the Hilal (crescent moon) of the month of Shawwal. Girls decorate their hands with Mehndi. Like other South Asian countries, Lachcha semai (Vermicelli) are served with Roti or Paratha or Luchi as breakfast in Bangladesh. Then people attend the Eid prayer in Eidgah. Children do “Salam” by touching the feet of the elderly members of the family. And elders give them a small amount of money which is known as “Salami” or “Eidi (gift)”, which is a major part of Eid happiness for children. Delicious dishes like Biryani, Polao, Pitha, Kabab, Korma, Payesh, Halwa etc. are served in the dining table. Wealthy Muslims in Bangladesh also distribute Zakat alms to the poor people. People visit the house of relatives, neighbour, and friends and greet each other saying “Eid Mubarak” (Happy Eid).
In Russia where 10 million Muslims reside, Eid al-Fitr is often known as Uraza Bayram (Russian: Ураза-байрам) and is a public holiday in the republics of Adygea, Bashkortostan, Dagestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia, Tatarstan and Chechnya. Most festive dishes consist of mutton, but salads and various soups are also popular. As the Muslim population is diverse, traditional festive dishes differ between regions – for example in Tatarstan pancakes are popularly baked. Russian Muslims go to festive worships at mosques in the morning of Eid al-Fitr, after which they often visit older relatives as a sign of respect. In the North Caucasian republics, children popularly go past various houses with a bag to get it filled with candy, specially stored by locals for the celebration. In Dagestan, eggs with bright stickers is a popular traditional dish served there during Eid al-Fitr. People generally dress more during this day – women choose bright dresses with beads while older people would wear papakhas. In many places in the country master classes are also hosted where families take part in activities such as embroidery and clay making.
In New York City, alternate side parking (street cleaning) regulations are suspended on Eid. Beginning in 2016, New York City public schools also remain closed on Eid. In other states, with smaller Muslim populations, it is common that schools will remain open on Eid al-Fitr. The United States Postal Service (USPS) has issued several Eid postage stamps, across several years—starting in 2001—honoring “two of the most important festivals in the Islamic calendar: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.” Eid stamps were released in 2001–2002, 2006–2009, and 2011.
As we can see, despite being one religion, every country has their own way to celebrate Eid, they can be influenced by eachother, or they deviate from one another. Which celebration is your favourite? maybe put it in the comments section.
And that’s it for today’s English Corner, I hope you have enjoyed this article and I hope to see you again, someday, Thank you for reading.