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Id Ul Fitr

Most non-Muslim Indians know little about this celebrated Mohammedan festival. What they do know is that if they were lucky, or if they were to work for the Government, Id would mean yet red number on the calendar. Read on to learn more about this holy festival.

What is Ramzan?

Ramzan is the ninth month in the Muslim calendar. According to legend, the Holy Koran was revealed in this month. Ramzan is thus regarded as highly auspicious and this month is marked by fasting and prayers. Muslims keep a fast every day during Ramzan. The rituals associated with Id and Ramzan have remained unchanged for centuries.

Often, after the afternoon prayer at the mosque, religious lectures are held here. Prayer services are also held here each night during the month of Ramzan. A small portion of the Koran is read during each service, so that the entire book is complete by the end of the month.

Ramzan is similar to Lent, in the sense that it is a period of abstinence and self restraint. It also entails fasting from dawn to dusk, and every Muslim, except those who are unwell, too old, or unable to fast due to other health or circumstantial reasons such as travel, pregnancy or nursing, keeps the fast. So does that mean no eating for a month? No. It does however mean no food, drink or tobacco from dawn to dusk during this period. Children who have not yet attained puberty are not expected to fast, but many parents like to make older children around the age of eight fast for a few hours a day during this period, just so they get accustomed to the rituals of self-restraint and build up their will power, so it is easier for them to fast later on.

What is the reason for fasting during this time?

The Prophet Mohammed left Mecca and undertook the journey to Medina in 622 AD, to join the other Muslims who had migrated to Medina to escape persecution in Mecca. During this period, he fasted for three days. Many years later, He was to receive a revelation from God, which stated that all followers of the Islam faith fasted for a certain number of days. "Ramadan is the month of Ramadan should spend it fasting..." (Chapter 2, Verse 183 and 185). Fasting also purports to reduce the barriers between the rich and the poor, by creating an understanding of the sufferings the poor undergo.

What is the connection between Id and Ramzan?

Id Ul Fitr is a festival that marks the end of the Ramzan period, and usually falls on a new moon night, in the month of April or May. On this day, Muslims gather in large groups at mosques, and offer their prayers or namaz. Id is one of the most important festivals in the Muslim religion. On this day, Muslims from around the world dress up in new clothes to celebrate Id with great enthusiasm. Id celebrates the breaking of the Ramzan fast, which is why the word Fitr, which means 'to break'. People greet each other with the words "Id Mubarak", and embrace three times. Women prepare delicious sweetmeats at home, and vermicelli kheer (sweetened milk) is a popular dish. Muslims also pay tribute to their ancestors during this time.

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