There are about 197 independent countries in the world, and 50 of them are Muslim states. After the completion of the holy month of Ramazan, today and tomorrow, Muslims all over the world will celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr, following their own customs and traditions. We thought it would be interesting to find out how the different Islamic countries celebrate this great festival that we all love so much. Hafsa Mansoor takes a look…
South East Asia
Special prayers are offered before sunset and new clothes are worn. The graves of loved ones are visited. Male outfits are called ‘baju kako” (a collarless long or short-sleeved shirt with traditional embroidered designs). Female outfits are called “baju kebaya (A loose fitting blouse usually worn with a sarong or batik kain panjang) and baju kurung (A loose-fitting full length dress, consisting of a skirt and a blouse).
As rice is the staple food of such tropical areas, the dishes sayur lodeh (vegetables in coconut curry) and lemang (a type of gelatinous rice cake cooked in bamboo), are widely cooked and enjoyed by locals. In Indonesia, besides the common South-Asian traditions, they prepare a special cake called Kue Lapis Legit, also known as the thousand-layer cake. It is inspired by the Dutch cuisine and is made with flour, butter and a host of spices.
Greeting – Hari Raya idul Fitri (Happy Eid).
Malaysians are liberal people who have open houses to receive and entertain neighbours, including non-Muslims.
Amazingly, duit raya (Eidi in green envelopes) is given to each child who knocks on the door, quite like Halloween. New clothes are worn on Eid, with males wearing baju melayu and females dressing in their baju kebayas.
Greeting – Hari Raya Aidilfitri
They have a considerably vast Muslim population and their law ensures freedom to all Muslims. In the Philippines, Eid ul Fitr is known as Wakas ng Ramadan and their traditions are similar to those of most of Asia.
Eid day starts with communal prayers, followed by khutba or sermon and later by giving fitrana to the poor. They wear new clothes, visit families and present candy to kids.
Greeting – Selamat Hari Raya Puasa
They have two holidays and perform religious rituals like paying fitrana. Eid is popularly known as Small Sallah in Nigeria and people generally greet each other with the traditional greeting: Barka Da Sallah, which means “Greetings on Sallah” in the Hausa language.
Greeting – Karamar Sallah
Sudan is the biggest Muslim country area wise and has a 97 percent Muslim population. They start some of their Eid celebrations even before the 1st of Shawal.
Women cover their hands in henna and prepare kahk (cookies) or belti foor (baked goods).
Greeting – Boberan Saiyan
Here also, the holidays are for three days. Elders tell their younger relatives to do good deeds. The first day is traditionally for visiting relatives, like in Pakistan. Women are given special gifts by their loved ones. Children entertain themselves by listening to famous folklores in the streets or gathering around puppet masters.
Kahk are cookies with nuts which Egyptians enjoy on Eid.
Greeting - Kol Sana wa Antom Tayben
Eid is traditionally celebrated in Afghanistan for three days. They prepare for this big day ten days earlier. Afghans visit their local bazaars to buy clothes, sweets and snacks. Influenced by us, they serve jalebis, shor nakhod (made with chick peas) and cake wa kolcha, which is like pound cake.
Greeting – Khala Eidet Mubarak
Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated in Bangladesh with a lot of fervour. Here people rejoice after communal prayers before sunset. Everywhere, Muslims frolic in their new clothes, enjoy outings and spend time with their families.
Although India is a Hindu-majority country; it has a noticeable Muslim population. Surprisingly, there are more Muslims in India than in the total population of Pakistan. Therefore, Eid is also one of the major events celebrated in India. On Eid Day, mosques are specially decorated for Eid prayers. Everyone, especially women, wear new clothes. Traditional sweets are sold on street dhabas, while modern restaurants offer meals for the more sophisticated people.
Hurrah! Eid is finally here! And we all know how we celebrate it! Celebrations start from Chand Raat (night of last Ramazan day) with girls buying bangles and applying mehndi. People do their last minute shopping and go to bed, eager to welcome Eid. Although I have mentioned earlier that my eids are quite boring, I look forward to making it special this year.
Eid is celebrated with great pomp here where Saudis decorate their homes and prepare scrumptious meals for visitors.
It differs from region to region but hospitality and generosity is common. Young ones receive gifts from elders before their special Eid meal on family get-togethers.
Many shopkeepers offer gifts with purchase and affluent Saudis leave rice and other staples anonymously at the doors of those who are poor.
Fireworks are a regular feature, symbolizing the spirit of Muslims at the advent of Islam and announcing the first rays of light at the beginning of the long-awaited day.
Although their only way of earning their livelihood is planting olive groves, and waiting for them to become mature, there is still hope for freedom in the eyes of the Palestinians. I remember seeing a photograph of a Palestinian household in the newspaper, in which they were having their iftar in an almost ruined house, but it was still decorated as it is a common Arab tradition of welcoming Ramazan.
Mansaf, a traditional Jordanian and Palestinian dish, is cooked on this special occasion. It is a lamb leg or large pieces of lamb with regional markouk bread on top, garnished by yellow rice with thick dried cheese and yogurt, which give it its particular flavour.
Central Asian Republics (Former USSR)
In Azerbaijan, family get-togethers are arranged to enjoy symbolic meals on Eid. People exchange gifts and donate money to charity.
Greeting – Ramazan Bayrami
They hand out deep fried doughnuts such as baursaki as part of their celebration.
Greeting – Oraza ait
The day of Eid is called Ramadan Hayti. Ramadan Hayit, as in other countries, starts with a morning Hayit-namaz (prayer). As is usual in other Islamic countries, Eid holidays are for three days. Traditional pastries like ‘kush-tilli’, ‘orama’ and ‘chak-chak’ are made by almost every family. Special plov is made and exchanged with neighbours. Children rejoice and enjoy a huge range of candies and special toys are sold on this occasion. Newlywed wives (kelin) expect guests to come and greet them while they are in their translucent veils.
Although Eid-ul-Fitr is not a public holiday across Europe, many Muslims do attend the prayer in the morning. Local businesses and schools often grant exemptions to the Muslim community because of this holiday, enabling them to take days off in large ethnically Muslim areas.
Men of South Asian descent usually wear a jubba, thawb and sherwani, and women usually put on a shalwar kameez during the morning. Some men go to the local cemetery after Eid prayers to pay their respects to the departed and pray for them. Pakistani dishes such as siweya (vermicelli), dahi bare, chole, kebab, and Bengali dishes such as samosas and rice are especially popular among Muslim communities.
Home of two continents, Turkey celebrates Eid as a holiday of sweets. Eid is known as Seker Bayrami here. Since Eid is a public holiday, offices and other institutions are closed for three entire days. Everyone puts on new clothes as it is sunnah to do so, and visit their loved ones.
It is regarded especially important to honour elderly citizens by kissing their right hand and placing it on one’s forehead while wishing them Eid.
Baklava and ‘Turkish Delight’ are important food items served.
Greetings – Bayraminiz Kutlu Oslun
On Eid Day, early in the morning, Albanians visit mosques near their homes. In Albania, Greek Easter soup and Balkan are made both for Easter and for Eid.
Greeting – Fitër Bajrami
Bosnia is in east Europe and a Muslim majority country whose roads were once filled with bloodshed. Let me briefly reveal its history. This land was inhibited by Russians in the 7th century and later conquered by Turks in 1463 who converted the population to Islam. The land remained with the Turks till 1878. After the First World War, Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia joined Yugoslavia, but clashes among communities remained.
Like the subcontinent, it contains variety of communities like orthodox Christians, Catholics, Balkans (Muslims), Albanians etc. After gathering at mosques for morning prayers on Eid, people get together to exchange gifts. Women, as usual, buy new clothes for Eid.
Greeting – Bajram Mubarek Olsun
Muslim minority states
10 of their 56 ethnic groups are Muslims who celebrate Eid. Let me tell you that Chinese Muslims are strict conformists and are concentrated in Province of Xinjiang (close to the Gilgit – Baltistan, which borders Pakistan and China).
They distribute lamb, mutton and beef to the poor on the Eid Day. In the province of Yunnan, Sayyid Ajjal’s grave is visited after communal prayers to honour the hundreds or perhaps even thousands of Muslims killed during the Qing Dynasty and the Cultural Revolution.
Greeting – Kai Zhai jie
Eid mubarak to all Muslims around the world!