“The moon is sighted, the moon is sighted” is the yell of the excited children from the streets and roof tops as an informal announcement of Eid-ul-Fitr a.k.a. Eid starting next day.
In the countries with Muslim population, this is a common group activity closer to sunset to sight the moon of the first day of Shawwal; the 10th month of the Islamic lunar calendar.
Young or old, all will be busy sharpening their eyesight to spot the thin and light moon on the horizon while guiding others “look on the left of the big tree right above the electrical cable closer to the blue electric pole”. Though this tradition is there and still used for verification, scientific calculations are also used nowadays for the lunar calendar because it is not always possible to spot the moon when the days are overcast.
Moreover, Islamic Centers need to plan ahead to book the halls and parks for the group prayer on the day of Eid. In 2021, Eid ul Fitr is falling on May 13, 2021.
After 29 to 30 days (depending sighting of moon) of fasting during the month of Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated on the 1st day of Shawwal that follows Ramadan.
Eid is to thank Allah (Arabic name for God) for giving strength and patience to accomplish the tasks of fasting requiring more sacrifices of comfort, offering special prayers, self-correcting behaviors towards people, and giving more charities to the less privileged. Most of the charities and alms are not limited only to the Muslims as Allah is for all His creations.
Is Eid-ul-Fitr only a religious celebration?
Though it is an expression of thanks after a month of fasting, the celebrations are not limited to only those who did fasting, or from the Muslim community. There are always members in the Muslim families that may have not done fasting due to health issues, or other reasons but that does not stop them from Eid celebrations. It is a day of joy, food, open houses, and fun for ALL!
Eid festivities actually start even a night before the morning of the Eid day. In South Asia, it is called “Chaand Raat”, meaning “Night of the Moon”. On this night, irrespective of the location on the globe, the shopping malls see a huge rush to do the last-minute shopping for new dresses, matching jewelry, colorful bangles, shoes, fragrances, decorations, going to salons, or getting henna tattoos.
In the United States, this chaotic fun has transitioned into organizing carnivals at the Islamic Community Centers where vendors have booths selling clothes, food, and applying henna designs.
Private parties are also held inviting families and friends to sit together for bonding, enjoy music, snacks, and definitely apply henna as many in the families are excellent henna artists.
For Muslim families, the day starts with the morning group Eid prayer around 8 – 10 am. It is similar to a Christmas Mass. This is organized by different Islamic Centers in the neighborhood. Since it is an annual event, it is always nice to have collaboration between different congregations for a larger diverse gathering than staying with the routine weekly Friday congregations.
In Eden Prairie, this prayer is held at the mosques of the Islamic Centers, or they work with the high school and other venues to rent a bigger space to organize the prayers. Many Islamic Community Centers arrange post-prayer socializing with Chai (Tea), Coffee, and snacks.
This is more an American tradition because life is busy and many have to run back to their jobs on a work day. The beauty of real Islamic spirit is best seen in the United States in terms of diversity and inclusiveness as people from different cultures, ethnicity, and color sit together on the floor listening to the sermon and offering prayers. Right after the prayers, they hug and greet people next to them, whether they are their family or not. They are still part of a bigger common family of HUMANITY!
Right after the prayers, people go back to their homes and enjoy the special dishes of Eid per their culture and tradition. Most of the day, families are either having their open houses, or visit other families. Cultural traditions are that youngsters visit their elders to show their respect. They also get “Eidi” or “Eidayya” (Arabic) from their elders.
“Eidi” is money given as a gesture of love by the elders to their youngsters to spend it the way they want. It can be as small as a dollar and definitely not mandatory. Mostly, kids spend it to enjoy food with their friends, pay for the rides in carnivals, save them to buy a game, or books. Like Christmas, “Eidi” can also be given in the form of gifts, though by the Santa of their families and friends.
“Eidi” is not limited to the kids only. Even sixty years old would get it from their elders; rather they will demand for it thus giving the elders a sense of empowerment, authority, and inclusiveness. Many Islamic Centers have started organizing Eid Carnivals too, or reserving a day at Valleyfair. This year, social interactions will be limited in compliance with the COVID19 health guidelines of the State.
What to expect on Eid if you have Muslim friends in your circle?
Visit them, or ask them to bring their unique Eid special dishes to the office and celebrate together. Your taste buds will be teased by different flavors from South Asia, Middle East, West Asia, Africa, Europe, East Asia and United States itself. The cuisine can be Sheer-Khurmah and Chaat from Pakistan/ India,/Bangladesh, Window Cookies from Iran, cookies like Kahk-el-Eid, Ghoraiba and Baskaweet from Egypt, Shushumow, Pineapple Biscuits and Sambuusa from Somalia, or simply Cakes and Donuts from Europe and America.
It may be a dare for some Minnesotans to try a different food but do challenge yourselves to ensure you are not missing this global food celebration and may add a new recipe to your list of delicacies.
Eid Greetings include “Eid Mubarak”, “Eid Saeed”, “Happy Eid”, or “Have a Blessed Eid”.