According to a well-liked maxim in Islam, a lot of kneeling would keep one in good standing and one who kneels before Allah would have the power to stand before anybody. By praying and showing some faith and dignity to the almighty Allah, a true Muslim will always receive pride and would be guided by the holy book of Quran. A divine light will always be there to enlighten the true path. This positive spirit in the religion makes the celebration of “Eid-ul-Fitr” (Eid al-Fitr) so untainted and refined amongst all.
“Eid-ul-Fitr”, often referred as “Khushir Eid” (খুশির ঈদ) in Bengali, is one of the most important religious festivals for the Muslims of West Bengal. It is celebrated throughout the world. The holy festival of “Eid-ul-Fitr” marks the end of “Ramadan” or “Ramzan”, the sacred month of ‘Roza’ or the ritual of fasting in Islam. “Eid-ul-Fitr” is the holy festival of breaking the ‘Roza’ (fasting). It is also known by other names like ‘Feast of breaking the fast’. After the month of Ramadan, this day is the single day where Muslims are not allowed to fast. Eid-ul-Fitr was first contrived by the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It is said that this festival was inaugurated in Madinah, when Prophet Muhammad migrated from Mecca. People of Madinah were believed to be celebrating two specific days of fun and merrymaking. Prophet Muhammad pronounced that the almighty has already fixed two days of festivity for the people, which were better than the previous ones. These festivals were Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-al-Adha. Both the festivals are celebrated with full vivacity by Muslims worldwide. This is how the advent of Eid-ul-Fitr was marked.
“Ramadan” also known as Ramazan, or Ramzan, or Ramadhan, the ninth month according to Islamic belief or Islamic calendar, is a holy month for fasting in Islam which is respected and followed by Muslims all over the world. This holy month of fasting is referred to as one of the five pillars in Islam. This holy fast lasts month-long, depending on the sightings of the crescent moon. The beginning and the end of Ramadan is determined by the lunar Islamic calendar. The word Ramadan is derived from the Arabic word “ramida”, which means “scorching heat or dryness”. Fasting in this holy month is obligatory for Muslims who are adults but those who are ill, travelling, elderly, pregnant, infant, or going through menstrual bleeding are not covenant towards the ritual. During the holy ritual of fasting from dawn until sunset, Muslims are prohibited from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking, and engaging in sexual relations with one’s spouse. They are instructed to withhold sinful behaviour, false speech, fighting, etc. Food and drink is provided every day before dawn and after sunset during Ramadan. During this time Muslims indulge themselves more in prayers called Salat and recitations from the holy Quran.
Eid-ul-Fitr celebrates the conclusion of 29-30 days of fasting from dawn to twilight in the month of Ramadan. Therefore, the day of Eid falls on the first day of the month of Shawwal (according to the Islam calendar). The day of celebration can differ in various countries, based on the observation of new moon by the local religious authority. But in Saudi Arabia, it is generally celebrated on the same day.
Eid-ul-Fitr has a particular prayer called Salat (Islamic prayer) consisting of two units in it called Rakat. On this day, Muslims all over the world take an early morning bath and proceed to attend the communal prayers. Generally, these prayers are arranged in an open space, or a field, or a large hall. There are huge gatherings of people (men) called Jammat who come to attend these prayers. These prayers consist of six extra Takbirs (rising of hands behind the ears while saying Allahu Akbar). Three out of six Takbirs are taken in the beginning of the first Raka’ah while the other three at the beginning of the second one. Some of the other Sunni school teachings believe in seven Takbirs. Two before the first one and followed by five in the next. After the Eid prayer the sermon and then a supplication is conducted asking for God’s forgiveness, mercy, peace and blessings for all living beings across the world.
People freshen up by early morning to visit the prayer session. Men travel to the prayer gatherings in fresh new clothes, generally kurtas. While women wait back home for their men to finish prayers, and start praying when they come back. After the rituals are completed, men hug each other wishing each other a prosperous life. Lawns, fields, halls and other open areas jammed with huge number of people hugging each other is a beautiful site for any humanity lover. Women prepare the day long preparations for the celebration. Generally the celebration lasts for one, two or three days. During this time people dress up in their best attires, and meet friends and relatives providing them with gifts. Some communities organize different festivities, such as communal meals or events for children, on this day.
Another important feature of the celebration, in which every Muslim takes part honestly, is charity. This is called Zakat-al-Fitr. According to this, some quantity of food, such as barley, dates, raisins or wheat flour, or money equivalent to them is donated to the poor.
Celebration in West Bengal:
Like every other place Muslims here in Bengal also wake up early in the morning and clean up. Men wear new clean clothes to attain the prayers and use attar (scent) before going out. Celebrations for women start from a night before the day of Eid. Women indulge in heavy shopping for themselves, their family, friends and relatives. Gifts and food items are bought in huge quantities and shopkeepers experience huge profits at this point of the year. After the prayers are completed, men hug each other, their family, friends and relatives all over. Some of the Jama’at sites in Kolkata are famous and considered to be a photographer’s paradise.
A very special item is prepared at homes on this occasion. It’s called Vermicelli Kheer (seviyan kheer / Simui Payesh). This dish is very popular, not only among Muslims but also among other religions. Bengal being the hub of food lovers, sweets bring in apocalypse for the demand of this dish. It is considered to be lucky to have a Muslim friend on this occasion, for likely reasons (food). Not only Kheer but other delicious regional food like Biryani, Haleem, Firni etc. are being prepared. During the day or days of celebration, people go out to meet friends and relatives and also invite people at home for celebrations and jollifications. People in rural Bengal go out with friends and family to nearby places to visit and celebrate the day. Parks, cinema halls, markets and other public places witness huge forum of people. Various tourist spots, like – Nicco Park (in Kolkata), Science city (in Kolkata), Alipore Zoo (in Kolkata), Gour (in Maldah), Hazarduari Palace & Imambara (in Murshidabad) experience huge assemblage of people to enjoy the day with their friends & family. Not only Muslims but also people from all religion celebrate the day with joy and harmony in West Bengal.