Eid al-Fitr or 'festival of the breaking of the fast' in Arabic, is celebrated at the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and the beginning of the Islamic month of Shawwal, the 10th month of the lunar Islamic calendar.
Muslims around the world observe the holy month of Ramadan by fasting from dawn to dusk. The festival of Eid is a reward for them.
Apart from fasting, Muslims restrain themselves from all kinds of vices including, lying, cheating, violence and theft during the holy month.
The celebration of Eid also marks the anniversary of the Quran being revealed.
History of Eid al-Fitr
The history of the most significant Muslim celebration dates back to 610 AD when Prophet Mohammed, while meditating, had visions of angel Jibril, the messenger of Allah.
Over the years, Prophet Mohammed, under the guidance of Jibril, wrote the holy verses of wisdom which later became the code of conduct for followers of Islam and were documented as the holy book of Quran.
It is believed that the wisdom of the holy Quran was revealed to Mohammad during the month of Ramadan and he asked all Muslims to observe the month to express their gratitude to Allah.
How Eid is celebrated
After spending a month on rigorous self-cleansing during Ramadan, Muslims around the world break their fast after the crescent moon is sighted after sunset on the last day of the holy month.
On the day, Muslim families and friends greet each other with "Eid Mubarak" or "have a Blessed Eid".
While the fasting month is a symbol of sacrifice and purification, the fast-breaking ceremony of Eid aims at promoting love and brotherhood, and the beginning of normal everyday life.
The day begins with an early hour bath (ghusl), after which Muslims put on their best clothes and eat dates before going to the special Eid prayer ceremonies in nearby mosques.
Eid al-Fitr, which means 'breaking the fast', is incomplete without the special delicacies meant for the special occasion. Muslim families serve the best of Eid meals during their celebratory get-together on the day.
Interesting facts about Eid al-Fitr
1. It is customary to eat breakfast before the special prayer of Eid, as Prophet Muhammad used to eat something sweet before offering his prayers.
2. In Muslim countries Eid is an official public holiday that lasts for three days
3. As the crescent moon of Eid appears on different dates in different countries, many Muslim communities celebrate Eid on the day it appears over the sky above Mecca.
4. The Eid prayer is different from the regular prayer known as Adhaan. The special prayer can be done anytime between the Ishraq (dawn) and Zawal (midday) prayers.
5. In Turkey, Eid is called Ramazan Bayram which means Ramadan Feast. The Eid delicacies are also known as Şeker Bayram, which is inspired from the popular Turkish sweet baklava.
6. Muslims usually give a special gift of money to charity also known as Zakat-ul-Fitr which is collected and given to Muslims who are poor or in need.
7. In Indonesia, Eid is also called Idul Fitri or Lebaran. On the day of celebrations many Indonesian Muslims visit the graves of their family members and clean the gravesite and offer prayers to Allah for forgiveness.