How Muslim Families Celebrate Eid Ul Fitr in India
Eid-ul-Fitr celebration by Muslims of India is somewhat like what Deepavali celebration is for the Hindus of India. Eid- ul-Fitr is a festival of joy, involving purchase and wearing of new clothes, giving gifts to the near and dear ones, sumptuous eating - particularly, lots of sweetmeat, time for family re-union and sharing of sweets with friends and relatives cutting across religious barriers; in all these aspects the festival is comparable with Deepavali (or Diwali) of the Hindus.
Eid ul Fitr is celebrated on the first day of the Islamic month Shaw'waal. Eid celbration vibes with good will and communal harmony in India, particularly because it is a celebration of culmination of the holy month Ramzan (Ramalan), when Muslims undertake fast, practice austerities and spend the month in prayer and spiritual rejuvenation.
Muslims of India, who constitute the second largest segment of population (next to Hindus) undertake fasting during Ramzan with their characteristic religious zeal cutting across all class in their society, from the rich to the poor.
Naturally, such a mass scale practicing of a month-long religious austerities produce a very positive ambiance, whose culmination in the joyful celebration of Eid augers well for the happiness and sense of well-being of the society as a whole.
The mood for Eid celebrations starts at least a week before; markets start overflowing with new clothes, gift articles, sweets, bakery items, mutton and poultry, dry fruits, unique food and spice ingredients needed for the cooking of feasts for the celebration. Muslims throng the markets and go on a spending spree, buying new clothes, fashion wear, jewelry, new curtains and tapestry for their homes, gifts for near and dear ones and so on.
In Kashmir valley, Eid is the period when people engage in over-spending and stocking of goodies as well as essentials including woolen wear, in way of preparation for the on coming winter season. Since the lifeline for supply of essentials to Kashmir Valley, namely the Jammu-Srinagar highway gets clogged in winter and rainy season, Eid festival comes in handy for people to spend for the festival as well as stock for the future.
On the eve of Id-ul-Fitr festival in India, crowd control at markets and traffic jams on the roads become headaches for local administration in the marketplaces of towns and cities where Muslims live in majority.
Eid is normally celebrated for 3 days, but the first day of the festival is particularly important as it is the day when the day-time fasting ends and Muslims visit the mosques nearby and offer their prayer in mass. Muslim womenfolk spend late night on the day previous to the celebration, adoring their palms with designs off "henna" and preparing sweetmeat and sumptuous food with lot of zeal.
Since the day of the festival is associated with the sighting of the new crescent-shaped moon called hilal, which is a typical pre-requisite of Muslim festival dates based on Lunar Calendar, the actual day of celebration may vary from state to state in India, based on the Cleric's announcement in this respect.
Eid Prayer at Juma Masjit, Delhi
It is a feast to the eyes to watch thousands of Muslims wearing new clothes, gathering in a huge mosque like the Jumma Masjid of Delhi, and offering their Namaz with their characteristic kneeling postures in perfect unison like a well orchestrated choir. After the namaz, people embrace each other and greet "Id Mubarak".
After the prayers, it is time for enjoying the sumptuous food and the sweet delicacies. "Sivai" (or Seviyan or Semiya Payasam in Tamil Nadu) is one of the main sweet items of the festival; It is a sweet pudding made of vermicelli, milk and sugar. Meat dishes of course form the main part of the feast. Mutton Biriyani (a rice preparation made with mutton and a heady dose of spices) is virtual "must have" for the south Indian Muslims.
Other mouth watering dishes enjoyed in Id ul Fitr include Mutton Korma, Sheer Korma, Nawabi Biriyani, Badami Ghosht, Badam phirni and so on.
For the Hindu friends of Muslim families, Eid is the time to visit their homes, taste the unique and mouth watering Muslim dishes and sweets, and greet Id Mubarak.
Id ul Fitr is not just for fun and frolicking alone. The word Fitr means donating in charity. In many Muslim localities, it is customary to donate a reasonable quantity of wheat and barley / rice by each affordable Muslim family as fitr for the sake of the poor and needy during Ramalan. This Fitr is distributed to the poor so that they can take care of their needs and celebrate Eid with the rest of the community.