Going Places June 2018

Page 44

explore | Eid Celebrations


Around The World In

Five Eids

With nearly a quarter of the planet’s people celebrating Eid al-Fitr this month, celebrations around the world are as diverse as the Muslims observing them. Words Tharik Hussain | Photography Getty Images

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Eid al-Fitr, the three-day festival marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, is the most eagerly anticipated date on the Muslim calendar. It brings to a close a month of abstinence and pious observation, and begins a period of indulgence when Muslims eat special foods, give generously and adorn the nicest clothes. Praying is also important – in the form of a special Eid congregational morning prayer – as is spending time with the family and visiting relatives. But with almost two billion Muslims residing in places as distinct as Sydney in Australia and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, Eid celebrations vary across the Muslim world. We take a look at Muslims celebrating Eid al-Fitr in five very culturally different countries – Muslim and nonMuslim – revealing a beautiful tapestry of global Islamic festive diversity.

TUNISIA Eid al-Fitr preparations begin from around the 19th day of Ramadan in Tunisia. “That’s when people start preparing sweets for Eid; some cook it at home and others use the local bakery for bigger batches,” explains Badr Haddaji, whose family is from Kairouan, the holiest city in Tunisia. The morning of Eid Seghir – young Eid – as Eid al-Fitr is known in Tunisia, begins at the cemetery. Families get up early to visit their deceased relatives, taking with them plenty of loose change for the poor who congregate near the cemetery, knowing a generous sadakah (charitable) handout is likely. This is followed by the obligatory Eid prayers. Fortunate Tunisians living near the coast can attend Eid prayers organised on the beach.

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For young Tunisians, Eid is a day to hanker for as much money from relatives as possible and then spend it in the bustling Eid markets filled with toys for the occasion. As a national holiday, Eid allows Tunisians to spend the day dressed in their freshest new clothes and visiting family, when the only pastime is eating and drinking. “All day we basically drink coffee and eat sweets. Because our stomachs are still adjusting from the fast, only in the evening we have a big meal,” says Badr. The most famous Tunisian Eid sweets are gherayeba and bashkouti, baked cookies and biscuits.

1 BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA It is the sound of a cannon, harking back to the Ottoman era, that signals the end of Ramadan in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and announces Ramazanski Bajram – like the Chinese Uyghurs, Bosnians also use the Turkish word for ‘holiday’. Hardly a surprise, given Bosnia was ruled by Ottoman Turks for over four centuries.


“Preparation for Ramadan begins from the 15th day. In Bosnia, we say if you haven’t started preparing for Bajram by this day, you will not be ready!” explains Elmedin Music, a Theology graduate from The Faculty of Islamic Studies Sarajevo. Houses are cleaned, new clothes are bought and food is prepared. The Eid staples of borek (stuffed spiral pastry) and baklava (sweet layered pastry with nuts) are also Ottoman in origin. At least two days of Eid al-Fitr are national holidays in Bosnia with the first day beginning early, straight after fajr (sunrise) prayer.

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