Celebrating Eid here and abroad

2009-09-18 14:22

RAMADAN is by far the holiest month on the Islamic calendar. It signifies strength, patience, tolerance and sacrifice as Muslims across the world give up eating food and drinking ­water between ­sunrise and sunset.

Once the 30 days have passed and the new moon is sighted it is time for ­celebration as Muslims rejoice in Eid, which is the celebration of the new month of Shabaan and the end of ­Ramadan. So if you’ve been ­wondering why for the last month your colleagues at work have been rejecting your invitations to lunch, it’s because they have been fasting.

During the evenings food is laid out to break the fast and also to ­restore energy so that prayers can be said throughout the night in ­devotion to God.

Eid in South Africa

Eid, which translates to “festi­vity”, is the culmination of those 30 days and is spent with family, friends and also in prayer.
Once the new moon has been sighted, which usually takes place in Cape Town, where hundreds of people gather at Green Point ­Stadium, Eid is ­celebrated the following day.

Announcements are made at the mosque or the word is spread through Muslim communities.

A typical Eid day in Joburg begins at dawn as women and men wake to attend Fajr prayers which take place at about 5am. Before attending the prayers, one is expected to ­perform a Ghusl (a special bath to cleanse one’s-self).

After the Fajr prayers men and women attend the Eidgah in a park or field to which hundreds of ­Muslims descend to hear the Eid ­lecture and to pray.

Once the prayers are ­finished you greet those around you and proceed to the kabristan (cemetery), where men visit the graves of family and friends and pray for them.

The next practice is to wish neighbours, family and friends “Eid-Mubarak” or “Slamat”. Here families exchange gifts, sending plates of sweetmeats, biscuits or cakes to extended families.

Children are rewarded with money according to the number of fasts they’ve kept, which is called “Eidie”?– probably the best part of the day for the kids!

Families, friends and neighbours converge for a stupendous breakfast, which consists of samoosas, pies, sweetmeats, biscuits, cake and sometimes even curry! One of the more traditional beverages prepared for Eid is gheer – a special milk drink that consists of nuts, sago and vermicelli.

After breakfast people adorn themselves with clothes that can range froman general Arabic attire? such as a hijab (head scarf) and abaya (cloak)? to more modern clothing, while mothers put the ­final touches to the lunch feast.

Generally lunch is served en masse as extended families and friends gather together to celebrate.

Biryani, roast leg of lamb, prawns and other delicious treats are laid out for families to enjoy while ­sharing tales of past Eids and reminiscing about loved ones who may have passed on.

The afternoon is generally spent lazing about and munching on ­dessert and sipping on tea.

Groups of young people venture out for the afternoon to parade their latest clothes and usually frequent spots such as Zoo Lake and ­Fordsburg Square. While it is not an Islamic practice it forms part of the South African Indian culture.

In Cape Town, Eid is a rather spectacular affair where Muslims?– particularly in the BoKaap?– go as far as painting their houses in purples, pinks, greens and turquoises to express their pride in Eid. It turns out to be quite a friendly competition!

According to a Cape Town resident the most significant difference between Eid in Johannesburg and Cape Town is the fact that prayers at mosque tend to be longer in Cape Town. Another important difference is the food, where instead of biryani and roasts, seafood dishes such as prawns and crayfish are served.

Eid around the world

In countries such as Iran Eid is generally more conservative and more emphasis is placed on charity and donating to those less fortunate.

In Indonesia Eid is known as Hari Raya Idul Fitri and lasts days. Lamps are lit as a symbol of Eid, while many families from the cities travel back to their rural villages to celebrate with their elders and families. It is common practice to see non-Muslim members of society in these Eastern countries wearing traditional Islamic wear as a symbol of respect and Eid is often used as a time of reconciliation with family members who have fallen out with each other.

In Europe prayers are said in shifts in mosques to accommodate the masses who attend and the day is generally spent with the immediate family.

In Malawi a light breakfast of tea and bread is served. The main meal is lunch, where the destitute and poor are invited to celebrate with wealthier families. A traditional dish called nsima is cooked, which consists of mealie meal that is served either with chicken, fish or beans. A special drink made of flour, millet, sugar and water and called nsima is prepared. Another Malawian tradition is to sit on a carpet with friends and family and sing Arabic songs.

While Eid may be celebrated in different ways throughout the world the common thread is that it is a day that is meant to be spent with those closest to the heart. Feasting aside, Eid is also a time to reflect and help those less fortunate.

Eid Mubarak to our Muslim­ ­readers!

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