As Muslims around the world bid farewell to the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, they also prepare for the festival of Eid al-Fitr.
Depending on the sighting of the moon, Eid celebrations will begin either in the evening of Saturday, May 23; or Sunday, May 24.
The occasion will be affected this year as nations around the world take measures to curb the coronavirus pandemic, including the suspension of Eid prayers, outdoor festivals; and other celebratory events.
What is Eid al-Fitr?
Eid al-Fitr means “festival of breaking the fast” and marks the end of Ramadan.
Traditionally; Eid is celebrated for three days in all Muslim-majority countries.
How is the start of Eid determined?
Like Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr begins with the sighting of the crescent moon (a day after the new moon); so Muslims have to wait until the evening before Eid to verify its date.
If the crescent moon is not visible; Ramadan continues for another day.
Because it is a lunar event, the date of Eid changes annually on the Gregorian calendar and varies from country to country depending on geographical location.
To declare the start of Eid; Muslim-majority countries depend on the testimonies of local moon sighters. The local religious authorities then announce when Eid will be taking place.
How do Muslims celebrate Eid?
Muslims across the world begin Eid celebrations by partaking in communal post-dawn prayers; followed by a short sermon.
The prayers take place in mosques or large halls but in many countries, it is also held in the open to accomodate the large numbers.
People congratulate one another after Eid prayers. They spend the day visiting relatives and neighbours and accepting sweets as they move around from house to house.
Children, dressed in new clothes; are offered gifts and money to celebrate the joyous occasion.
This is preceded by the giving of alms to the poor.
It is common for Muslim-majority nations to decorate their streets with festive lights and hold carnivals; to commemorate the end of the holy month.
Each country has traditional desserts and sweets that are prepared before Eid or on the morning of the first day. These foods range from special biscuits and bread to cakes and puddings.
This year, Eid prayers have been cancelled in several Muslim countries amid the coronavirus pandemic; including Oman and Egypt. Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti on Sunday urged Muslims to pray at home instead of going to the mosque.
Festivals and public celebrations on Eid will also be banned in many parts of the Muslim world; as nations struggle to contain the spread of COVID-19. Globally, there have been more than 4.8 million known cases of coronavirus, and more than 318,000 people have died; according to Johns Hopkins University.
What are common Eid greetings?
The most popular greeting is “Eid Mubarak” (Blessed Eid) or “Eid sa’id” (Happy Eid).
Eid greetings also vary depending on the country and language.
In Indonesia, Eid is called Lebaran, so Indonesians would say “Selamat Lebaran”; which means Happy Eid. Other variations are “Mutlu Bayramlar” in Turkish and “Barka da Sallah” in Hausa; a Nigerian language.
What are other traditions associated with Eid?
Generally, Muslims prepare for Eid prayer by bathing and putting on new clothes ranging from traditional, modern or Western clothes.
Muslims are also encouraged to eat something sweet; usually dates, before heading to the prayer.
On their way to the prayer, Muslims recite takbeerat, praising God.