The Observance of Eid Al-Fitr
The Observance of Eid Al-Fitr
Eid Al-Fitr Celebrations
Eid al-Fitr is an Islamic celebration that marks the end of Ramadan. The celebration is done for three consecutive days, and it is marked with prayer sessions among the community. Eid al-Fitr is a period of repentance and reconciliation that is demonstrated through the sharing of food with the needy members of the community, visiting loved ones, and other charity activities. The festival is crucial to the Muslim community since it is a symbol of their faith in the religion. People gather to worship their God for His blessings and strength during the fasting period. The beginning of the festival is marked by the appearance of the moon in the sky. It is usually on the first day of the month of Shawwal that follows Ramadan on the lunar Islamic calendar (Gulevich 2004).
As a Muslim, I have a great respect for religious holidays. Last year I visited my Muslim friend Amina to celebrate Eid al-Fitr together with her family. Five other families joined them for the celebration, and the house was full of people. The festival started when we were at home, and everyone seemed so excited about it. My friend’s parents had bought many new items from the supermarket, and they could not be opened until the moment came. Everyone was handed their present, and it was the time to open them and discover the hidden treasure. I opened mine and found a very lovely taqiyah adorned with gold jewels. Amina found a new pair of shoes in her gift box, while her younger siblings got new toys in theirs, and everyone else got at least one gift. Then came the time for women to prepare the food for the big day, while the men in the family went for prayer sessions in the mosque. All women went to the kitchen and since it was morning, the food on the menu had to be breakfast. They divided into shifts since in the kitchen was not enough room for all of us. One group was given a responsibility of preparing beverages.
The beverages to be prepared were coffee, tea, and fruit juices. For cooking of tea and coffee the tea-maker was used, and when ready they were poured into thermos flasks to maintain an appropriate temperature for drinking. Oranges, mangoes, and other fruits were peeled and used to prepare fresh juices. Other fruits were chopped into pieces ready for eating. Baking was another activity. Dough was set to make bread, cakes, and other pastries. Everyone was busy trying to help. Some helped in shaping of the cakes, biscuits, bread, and so on. Others were assisted for placing of the shaped dough into the ovens and regulating the temperature. When breakfast was ready, it was time to prepare lunch dishes such as lamb, usually prepared by boiling it for hours with many spices until tender. Beef was another meal that was prepared with a lot of spices added to it. The spices resulted in a tantalizing aroma coming from the kitchen. Another delicious meal prepared was pilaf. This was the main dish, and it was cooked for longer hours than the rest of the meals. It included making of ordinary rice with seasoned broth. The mixture of spices used for cooking it made it turn into a brownish color. When the food was ready, the table was set and the food was ready to be served. Many other foods bought from the supermarkets such as sweets and fruits were placed on the table.
When we came back from the mosque, we sat around the table, and a short prayer was uttered before the food was served. After the prayers, there was an interactive session where people introduced themselves as the women served the food for all members. After serving the food, it was time for families to enjoy their meal. Everyone seemed satisfied with the foods served, and this raised the excitement among them since they talked all day about anything they could think of. I was impressed by their social nature and their unity despite coming from different backgrounds. This went on for the whole day, and when evening came, it was time to clean the dishes. The women once again took up their chores to this. After this, I excused myself to go back home to join my family in the celebrations. They were sad that I left the place of my friend despite the fact that they saw me that day for the first time. They offered me a lot of food such as dates, pastries, and other kinds of foods.
The preparation of the variety of meals is a representation of the group’s thanksgiving to our Creator. We come together to communally prepare meals and to hold prayers for the community. This is to show appreciation for the gifts given by Allah. The food offered on this day is much better than the one taken on normal days. This is also a sign of appreciation, and it demonstrates the immense importance of this day since the Muslims are willing to go out of their way to make it a huge celebration. The Muslims who are not financially stable save up money for this day’s celebrations. New clothes are bought and worn during as a demonstration of repentance. The food is offered to the less fortunate people as a sign of generosity to them.
This is used to demonstrate sharing with the needy, and it is a sign of unity among the community. It was the first time for these families to celebrate the festival together since Amina’s family celebrates the festival with different families each year. It was also my first time to take part in the celebration in this family. Food on this day is a great symbol for our community. During this period, the participants seemed extremely excited by the events of this fest. This massive food preparation is observed during all Eid al-Fitr celebrations, not just in this particular one. All other Muslims were doing the same preparations for the festival as we did. It is therefore a common practice among all Muslims and is observed during all Eid al-Fitr celebrations (Al-Gailani & Smith, 2002). However, some members of our society view this practice as a waste of resources, and the extravagance accompanying the festival seems to have a negative economic implication on the society. Therefore, not all members of the society support these celebrations.
This time, Amina’s family decided to stay at home on the festival, but the previous year they had gone to Pakistan. The Muslim community has a diverse way of celebrating this holiday. Various restaurants specialize in the preparation of foods, specially taken by the Muslims in Eid al-Fitr. They use various recipes from a number of communities that assist them in preparation of delicious meals preferred by the community. These restaurants also offer communal activities for communities to take part in. They may include games where the participants need to interact during the game. Various families visit these restaurants in groups to make it a communal celebration. The Muslims sometimes form groups to do charity work together. The charity activities include offering clothes to the poor people and children’s homes, sharing food with the people who cannot afford it.
Historically, we mainly celebrated the festivals at home with their relatives where traditional foods were served. Currently, we have adopted some modern practices into our mode of celebrations. They include taking part in modern activities such as games to help in interactions. Modern food recipes have also been incorporated in the preparation. Some families use the assistance of their house-helpers instead of making the food by themselves as it happened in the past (Heiligman & Yavari, 2006).
This feast for the Muslims could be compared to the Christian celebrations of Christmas. Christmas is a day used to mark the birth of Jesus, and hence the birth of the Christian faith. It is also a day of celebrations and exchanging of gifts. This day is similar to Eid al-Fitr. The communal activities are also similar since the Christians also celebrate Christmas in groups and share their resources with the less fortunate members of the society. The prayers used to mark this day are also observed during Christmas.
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