14 Jun 5 Unique Eid Traditions From Around the World
New clothes, lots of food, sweet delicacies, chocolate and gifts – it certainly can’t get any better!
Eid-Al-Fitr which translates to “festival of breaking the fast” is a time of rejoicing with family and friends, a blissful 3-day celebration that marks the end of the Holy month of Ramadan. It’s that time of the year when millions of Muslims around the world enthusiastically wait for the new moon sighting to be confirmed, on the last day of Ramadan, to celebrate the end of their fasting journey.
Eid Mubarak (blessed Eid) and Kul Aam Wa Antum Bikhair (wishing you well-being every year) are the two customary Eid greetings that you would hear along with an exchange of hugs and smiles. Attending the morning prayer, followed by a gathering with family members for a big meal (and scrumptious sweets!) is a common practice amongst many Muslims on the first day of Eid. Visits to relatives and friends normally take place later in the day or the following day.
Yes, food is a staple of the celebration yet Eid isn’t only about the mouth-watering sweets or solely dedicated to feasting, taking time off and having a good time. Like Ramadan, Eid is a sacred time of prayers, reflection and forgiveness. It is a time when Muslims remember those who are less fortunate and make charitable donations, traditionally done before the morning Eid prayer.
Most Muslims celebrate Eid in the same traditional sense but of course cultural traditions and practices for Eid differ from East to West and from one country to another. Let’s look at how it is celebrated in five different countries.
Sticking to the traditional way of celebrating, the first day of Eid in the UAE is exclusive to spending time with family and relatives. Morning prayers are followed by a lunchtime feast usually at one’s grandparents’ house where all family members would gather. Traditional Emirati popular dishes including Harees (a porridge of whole wheat and meat) and Balaleet (sweet vermicelli noodles topped with an omelette or fried egg) are a must-serve for Eid breakfast. If you have an Emirati friend greet him with Asakum Min Awada! (literate translation: may you be around with us next Eid as well!)
As part of Eid preparations, females in India apply decorative Mehndi (henna) designs to their hands a day before. Mehndi, festive clothing, jewellery and colourful traditional bangles are the highlights of the Eid celebration for women. On the day, you’d see homes lit up with extravagant light displays, preparations of signature festive dishes such as the spicy and delicious mutton biryani and the special dessert sheer khurma (vermicelli pudding made of milk, raisins and chopped nuts).
Eid-Al-Fitr is locally known as Lebaran in Indonesia and it is the most important holiday for Indonesians. Similar to other Muslim nations, Indonesians also celebrate with prayers, gatherings and family reunions. One of the foremost traditions is Mudik (homecoming) where those who leave their hometowns to work in the big cities travel back to their cities to spend Eid with their families. A ritual called the Halal Bihalal is also done during or after Eid which involves seeking forgiveness from everyone including friends, colleagues, neighbors and relatives.
In Turkey, Eid-Al-Fitr is known as Ramazan Bayramı (Ramadan festival) or Şeker Bayramı (festivals of sweets). People wear their new clothes referred to as bayramlık and wish each other Bayramınız Mübarek Olsun that translates to ‘May your Bayram (Eid) be blessed’. The day is celebrated by visiting and spending time with close relatives especially the elderly to wish and seek blessings from them. The delicacy of Turkey – Baklava and Turkish delights are distributed and shared among all. To live the spirit of Eid and to keep kids entertained, ‘Karagöz ve Hacivat’ a shadow puppet show is performed in public places.
Much like the other countries, heading to the local mosque to perform Eid prayer rituals followed by a family get-together is the norm. Food plays a central role in the Morrocan culture when celebrating any occasion including Eid. Women typically spend the day before preparing Morrocan cookies and pastries. Thick homemade Moroccan pancakes called Msemen and Baghrir are eaten for breakfast along with the authentic mint tea. Men wear djellaba or jabador with the traditional Moroccan shoes, called balgha and women wear their elegant kaftan dresses.
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