Ramadan brings out a special feeling of emotional excitement and religious zeal among Muslims of all ages. It is one of the holiest months for Muslims. Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. Ramadan is expected to begin on or around August 1, 2011 and will finish on or around August 29, 2011, and will continue for 29 or 30 days. Every day during this month, Muslims around the world spend the daylight hours in a complete fast. Note that in the Muslim calendar, a holiday begins on the sunset of the previous day, so observing Muslims will celebrate Ramadan on the sunset of the 31st of July.
Ramadan is always on the same day of the Islamic calendar, the date on the Gregorian calendar varies from year to year, since the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar and the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar. This difference means Ramadan moves in the Gregorian calendar approximately 11 days every year. Hence the above estimated Ramadan dates for the next year’s show that every year Ramadan starts 11 to 12 earlier than the previous year. The date of Ramadan may also vary from country to country depending on whether the moon has been sighted or not. In this month Muslims all around the world fast and worship God. Ramadan is also a time of intensive worship, reading of the Qur’an, giving charity, purifying one’s behaviour, and doing good deeds. Ramadan or Sawn one of the five pillars of Islam which all Muslims are expected to follow, the other four are Faith (Shahadah); Prayer, Charitable Giving, and the Pilgrimage to Mecca. The holy month of Ramadan is divided into three parts (1) Rahmat, (2) Maghfirat and (3) Nijat. While Rahmat means “Mercy of God, Maghfirat means “Forgiveness of God” and Nijat means “Salvation”. As their meaning suggest, Muslims ask for Allah’s blessings making their life meaningful. Therein lays the significance of Ramadan. Ramadan is the month of celebration as well as the month of discipline and self-control.
What is Fasting?
Fasting is another form of worship found universally in world religions. Fasting is an ancient and universal practice. The Jews observe an annual fasting on the Day of Atonement in commemoration of the descent of Moses from Sinai after spending forty days of fasting in order to be able to receive revelation. Jesus observed fasting for forty days in the desert and commanded his followers to fast. In brief, the practice of fasting has been common in one form or the other in all human societies. Fasting is a way of experiencing hunger and developing sympathy for the less fortunate, and learning to thankfulness and appreciation for all of God’s bounties. Fasting is also beneficial to the health and provides a break in the cycle of rigid habits or overindulgence. Observing fast, or fasting, is when a person abstains (or keeps away) from eating and drinking. Muslims fast for 30 consecutive days from sunrise to sunset. The Qur’an commands: “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint. [Surah Bakarah – 2:183]
Eid-ul-Fitr is a holiday marking the end of Ramadan. After 30 days of fasting, the end of the month of Ramadan is observed with a day of celebration, called Eid-ul-Fitr. Eid means ‘festival’ or ‘celebration’ in Arabic and the festival following Ramadan is known as ‘Eid-ul-Fite. On this day a large feast is celebrated on the breaking of the fast of Ramadan, and is held on the first day of Shawwal, right after the month of Ramadan. Also called “Eid,” on this day many elaborate dishes are served at banquet-like gatherings. Additionally, houses are decorated and gifts are exchanged. An important part of Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations is to express warm wishes to your neighbours and invite them for a meal. An interesting idea is to celebrate the Eid-ul-Fitr with poor children. The Muslims are actually advised to offer 3 kilograms of one’s daily ration or its equivalent cash to the poor on this occasion.
Ramadan Festival in Sri Lanka Gallery
Text by Neil Kiriella
Eid or Eid-ul-Fitr is the greatest festival of the Muslims. The Muslims, all over the world, celebrate it with great pomp and show, zeal and gusto.
This festival marks the end of Ramadan. Ramadan is a holy month of fasting. The Muslims observe fasts for a full month after sighting the moon of ‘Ramzan’. When the month of ‘Ramzan’, is over and the moon of Eid is sighted, they end their Roja (fasts). In this way, the Muslims break their month-long fast. The next day, the festival of Eid is celebrated. Every year it comes off on the first day of the month of Shawwal. It is a day of gaiety, festivity and feasting.
It is a believed that fasting in the month of ‘Ramzan’ purifies the soul. The prayers after fasting save them from going to hell and open the doors of heaven. Thus, they lead a pure and holy life during the month of ‘Ramzan’. They observe fasts, offer regular prayers in the form of ‘Namaz’; read the holy Koran, feed the hungry and give alms to the poor. Charity is the greatest virtue to be practiced during the month of ‘Ramzan’. Fasting comes to an end when the new moon of Eid is sighted. The sight of the new moon of Eid is considered very pious and holy by the Muslims. It is a signal for the celebration of Eid the very next day.
On the Eid day, Muslim people get up early in the morning. They take a bath and put on their best dresses. Houses are decorated. They thank Allah, visit mosques and offer prayers in the form of ‘Namaz’. They embrace one another and exchange Eid greetings. ‘Eid Mubarak’ is on the lips of each Muslim. Sweets are distributed, gifts are given and delicious dishes are prepared at home. Friends and relatives are invited to feasts. Sweet noodles are the most popular dish cooked on this day. At some places, Eid fairs are also held. Eid greetings are exchanged by one and all. Children buy toys and sweets.
In India, all communities join the Muslims in celebrating Eid. Sweets are shared and greetings exchanged by all. The Hindus, Sikhs and Christians greet their Muslim brothers on this day. The celebration of Eid promotes national integration and the feeling of brotherhood. Joys are doubled when they are shared. Eid brings a message of brotherhood for all of us.
It is a festival of love and goodwill. It gives us a message to love all and hate none. It teaches us to embrace all men as brothers. Separated lovers hope to meet on this day. It exhorts us to bid goodbye to hatred, jealousy and enmity and bring in an era of love, sympathy and brotherhood.
Category: Essays, Paragraphs and ArticlesTagged With: Indian Festivals