Eid al-Fitr Festival in India
Eid al-Fitr or the "Festival of Breaking the Fast" is one of the most celebrated of all Muslim holidays. During this day, Muslims break their month-long fasts and thank Allah for giving them the will, strength, and endurance to observe the fast during the holy month of Ramadan.
This festival is marked with much joy in India. To celebrate, many Muslims will visit family and friends to give gifts and have a feast together. Sweet dishes such as Sheer Khurma, toasted sweet vermicelli noodles with milk and dried fruit, and saviyaan, a sweet milky pudding with dates, are the common Indian Eid delicacies.
In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about Eid al-Fitr Festival including when it is, where to celebrate, how to celebrate and some tips on enjoying this festival.
- Eid al-Fitr is a joyous three-day celebration that marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting.
- Eid falls on the first day of the 10th month of the Islamic calendar. The celebration begins on the sighting of the new moon. Every year, Eid al-Fitr is held about 10 days before it was the previous year.
- Zakat Al Fitr is a type of alms given by Muslim families to the poor in the form of food such as rice and barley.
- On the first morning of Eid, Muslims perform the Eid prayer where they thank Allah for enabling them to complete Ramadan.
- In India, the Jama Masjid in Delhi can accommodate up to 20,000 people during the prayer sessions on Eid and transforms into a sea of worshippers.
Eid al-Fitr Festival
Eid al-Fitr or the "Festival of Breaking the Fast" is one of the most celebrated of all Muslim holidays. At the end of Ramadan, Eid celebrates the end of the holy month of fasting and is marked by a large meal and other festivities.
The significance of this unique festival is a spiritual one. This is the day when Muslims thank Allah for giving them the will, strength, and endurance to fast and obey his commandments during Ramadan.
Eid is a time for Muslims to give charity to those in need and to celebrate the completion of a month of blessings and joy with family and friends.
This festival is also a time of official receptions and private visits when friends greet one another, presents are given, new clothes are worn, and the graves of relatives are visited.
When is Eid al-Fitr?
Eid falls on the first day of the month of Shawwal, the 10th month of the Islamic calendar. The name of the holiday means ‘To Be Light and Vigorous’ or ‘Lift or Carry’ in Arabic.
The celebration of Eid doesn't begin until the night of the new moon meaning that across the world Eid al-Fitr starts at different times and sometimes on different days. To make it more uniform, some Muslims celebrate Eid when the new moon appears over Mecca.
The Islamic calendar is based on lunar cycles, as opposed to the Gregorian calendar, which is based on the solar cycle. Every year, the festival is held about 10 days earlier than it was the previous year in the Gregorian calendar.
Upcoming Eid al-Fitr dates:
- Eid 2020: May 24th
- Eid 2021: May 13th
- Eid 2022: May 3rd
How is Eid celebrated?
Eid celebrations in India are quite similar to that of the rest of the world, but with a slight twist. The processions during the day are the same, but the food and sweets served in India are unique to the country.
Below we will explain the 4 traditions of Eid in India.
1. The Night Before Eid
The night before Eid is called Chaand Raat, which means "Night of the Moon". On this day, Muslims in India will visit bazaars and shopping malls with their families for Eid shopping.
Women, especially younger girls, often apply the traditional Mehndi or henna on their hands and feet and wear colorful bangles.
2. Zakat Al Fitr
On Eid before prayers, the day starts early with a charity contribution called Zakat Al Fitr. Each family who can afford it will give a donation to the poor.
The donation is typically given in food like barley, dates, and rice rather than money to ensure that the needy can enjoy a nourishing holiday meal and participate in the celebration. It is believed to be a duty of every pious Muslim to help less fortunate people during Ramadan.
3. Eid Prayer
On Eid after Zakat Al Fitr, Muslims gather in the morning in large outdoor locations or in mosques to perform prayers. This is when devotees thank the creator for enabling them to complete Ramadan and align themselves spiritually with their faith.
The prayer consists of a sermon followed by a short congregational prayer. The exact pattern and number of segments of the prayer are specific to each sect of Islam.
The celebration of Eid starts with the silent Niyyat prayer. Niyyat means “intention” and in the Muslim world, the idea of "intention" is very important in most Islamic observances.
Afterward, the words Takbeer Allahu Akbar (God is the greatest) are said by the Imam and all the followers. Every time the words are said, the worshippers raise their hands to their ears and then drop them. The last time the words are said, every one folds their hands.
Then the Imam reads the Surah-e-Fatiha and other chapters of the Quran. Next, the congregation performs Ruku and Sujud which is a common act during prayers when devotees kneel then bow down with their head on the ground. This completes the first Rak’ah.
Both Sunni and Shia Muslims perform two Rak’ah during the Eid prayers. After the prayer, there is a Khutbah, a public preaching in the Islamic tradition.
4. Family Celebrations
After the Eid prayer, Muslims usually go and visit their family and friends to give gifts, visit the graves of ancestors, and make phone calls to distant relatives to wish them well for the holiday.
Some Muslim communities will hold large communal celebrations in meeting houses, activity centers, or rented halls. Edi gifts, such as money, accessories or home goods are frequently given to children. During the day, people greet each other with "Eid Mubarak" (Blessed Eid) or "Eid sa'id" (Happy Eid), usually followed by a formal embrace.
Family members also wear traditional clothing or may give one another new clothing so that everyone looks their best. Eid clothing for men includes Kurta Pajama, Mojri, and Taqiyah whereas for women it is typically a Salwar, Lehenga Choli, Kameez, and an ornate hijab.
Eid is the only day in the month of Shawwal when Muslims are not allowed to fast.
Traditional Eid delicacies will also be served throughout the day including Sheer Khurma (toasted sweet vermicelli noodles with milk and dried fruit), saviyaan (a sweet milky pudding with dates), Ras malai (a rich cheesecake), and kibbeh (a meatball made of beef or lamb).
Where should you celebrate Eid al-Fitr in India?
Eid is a huge celebration that takes place throughout the country and especially in cities with a higher population of Muslims. Each region in India has its own ways of celebrating this holiday.
The following 3 cities are where the celebrations are the biggest and liveliest:
Delhi celebrates Eid with great fervor and zeal. In this city, people will gather at the Jama Masjid, one of the most famous mosques in India, to offer prayers. During Eid, the narrow lanes of Chandni Chowk Market are also full of people dressed in colorful clothes and stalls selling freshly cooked mutton curry.
The famous Haji Ali is one of the best places to witness Eid celebrations in Mumbai. After offering prayers, many people head to Mohammed Ali Road where delectable food items ranging from meat dishes to tempting desserts are sold.
The whole city of Srinagar celebrates Eid with joy and excitement. Srinagar is a famous place to visit during this time because the buildings get decorated and the streets are flooded with happy people. The city is also home to the renowned Hazratbal Mosque, where a huge number of devotees will come to offer prayers.
How should you celebrate Eid as a traveler?
Eating special Eid dishes is the best thing you can do during this festival as a traveler. Eid al-Fitr is also called the "Sweet Holiday" because of all the sweet and delicious foods that are served during the celebration.
For women, you can have the traditional Mehndi (or henna) designs drawn on your hands and feet. Henna is a temporary brown dye that is commonly worn by women during Eid. There are many designs that you can choose from which represent the holiday and its deeper meanings.
Another great thing to do during Eid is to go shopping. Although the most common items sold during this festival are traditional Eid clothing, many pieces of jewelry and bangles are also sold in shops for good prices.
Tips For Experiencing Eid
As a traveler who would like to experience Eid, you should wait to join in the celebrations until after the Eid prayers. Prayers during Eid are a sacred practice and should be done in a peaceful environment. To be respectful of Indian Muslims, you should join the fun once the prayers have finished.
During this holiday, you can expect to see huge crowds walking on the streets as people return home from mosques and outings. Be prepared to be pushed around and be sure to wear appropriate clothing and comfortable shoes.
Eid is widely celebrated in public to build a greater sense of community. It is perfectly fine to greet strangers with a cheerful ‘Eid Mubarak’ which means ‘Happy Eid’ in Hindi. Locals will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Legends and Stories of Eid-al-Fitr
One legend of Eid dates back to 622 when the Prophet Mohammed migrated from Mecca to Medina to escape persecution. During his journey, the prophet fasted for three days and later asked his followers to do the same after he received a revelation from Allah.
Another legend states that the Prophet Mohammed won two important battles during the month of Ramadan. One was the battle of Badr and the other was the conquest of Mecca. It is believed that Ramadan celebrates the war and Eid the victory.
According to another story, the Quran is said to have been completely revealed to Mohammed during the last ten days of Ramadan. Mohammed then asked his followers to spend this month fasting, praying, and participating in noble causes as a sign of respect to Allah.
History of Eid
According to Islamic tradition, it was in the year 610 that Prophet Muhammad, while meditating at Mount Hira one night during the month of Ramadan, had a vision of the angel Gabriel who appeared before him and declared that he was the messenger of God.
During the next 23 years, Muhammad was visited many times by Gabriel who taught him the holy knowledge in verses. This sacred knowledge consists of the code of conduct that Allah wants his people to maintain on earth. It is inscribed in verses and then compiled in the holy book, the Qur'an.
The sacred knowledge is said to be revealed to Muhammad during the month of Ramadan. As a mark of respect and gratitude to Allah, the prophet asked his followers to pass the month of Ramadan by fasting and praying and then to end the month with festive celebrations.
Experience Eid al-Fitr in India with Asia Highlights
Eid al-Fitr is a festival full of joy and celebrations. Traveling to India during this time will provide you with a very unique experience. If you want to see Eid in India but aren’t sure where to start, then we can help. At Asia Highlights, we can help you create a tailor-made itinerary that fits what you want to experience whether that includes Eid or another Indian celebration.