After a month long of fasting, spiritual contemplation and an overall adjustment of lifestyles, perhaps no other event is more joyous to Muslims around the world than the festival of Eid al-Fitr. The celebration of Eid itself and its many unique characteristics paint a story which is as colourful and deep as the significant month which preceded it being the month of Ramadan.
Eid al-Fitr falls on the 1st day of the month of Shawwal which is the tenth month of the Islamic calendar and occurs immediately after the fasting month of Ramadan. As the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar system, it thus has a 12 month cycle revolving around 355 days. With 10 days less than the Gregorian calendar, the Islamic months, including the period of Eid al-Fitr, vary each year in comparison. Thus yearly, Eid al-Fitr advances by about 10 days compared to the Gregorian calendar.
The duration in which Eid is celebrated varies from 3 days to even about a month in some regions. Usually, the first week is the most energetic and intense in which many visitations to family members and loved ones occur. The remaining weeks are usually spent catching up with friends and colleagues.
Based on the MasterCard-CrescentRating Ramadan Travel Report 2016, the timing of Eid will not fall during the major school holidays in the next 15 years for most countries. While this may make such visitations difficult, especially when family members and loved ones are located in different countries from one another, these barriers will ultimately become secondary as family members bridge the distances in order to seek for forgiveness from their elders and enjoy sumptuous Eid meals together.
In this festive period, most Muslims greet each other with the words “Eid Mubarak” which is a traditional greeting that translates to “may you enjoy a blessed festival”. The greetings used may vary from country to country.
Eid greetings could also be sent in multiple ways. While the traditional face-to-face greeting is still the preferred method, social media will also come abuzz as text messages, emoticons, e-Cards, video calls and postings on all things Eid will populate the cyber landscape. This positive online vibe during Eid is further enhanced through social media as Muslims are able to share their joy with both their Muslim and non-Muslim friends.
In terms of the actual activities make up the Eid, the day will start with a congregational prayer at a mosque; the timings of these prayers will vary from place to place, but it is generally always in the early morning. For hoteliers, this information can be obtained from the local mosque in advance to notify the Muslim guests. It will also be a good gesture to consider providing transport for the guests to a nearby mosque for this prayer.
After going to the mosque, family members will gather together and seeks forgiveness from the elders in the family. Children especially look forward to this moment as they, along with the elders, receive gifts often in the form of packet money. For members which no longer live in the same household, this moment becomes more precious as they rekindle relationships and update each other. These visitations are then extended to relatives and then to friends.
The story of Eid would not be complete without a special mention of the food and delicacies. From sweets to kuehs to ketupats, the multitude of platter varies from region to region. However what often binds these variety of dishes is the generous spread in which everyone treats each other as guests as they share the food together.
In this integrated world we live in today, Eid is as much a Muslim festival as it is a global one. Around the world - wherever you may be, here is wishing you Eid Mubarak.