Ramadan, Ramzan or Ramazan is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar and this month-long fasting period is observed by Muslims all around the world. As the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, the beginning and end of Ramadan is based on the sighting of the new moon and on account of this the observance moves behind by approximately two weeks every year. The month-long fasting period culminates with the sighting of the new moon for the Islamic calendar month of Shawaal, and Ramadan’s end is marked by the celebration of Eid, Eid al-Fitr or Eid-ul-Fitr upon the sighting of this new crescent moon. Eid al-Fitr is also called the “Festival of breaking fast”, and like for Ramadan, this is also observed in Saudi Arabia (and some countries around the world, as well as some parts of India) first, as Saudi is not only home to the holiest site for Muslim – Mecca, but also because the moon is always sighted there first. This year, Eid may begin on the evening of May 13 and end on the evening of May 14, however this depends on the sighting of the new moon.
According to Islam, it is believed that it was during the month of Ramadan that the Holy Quran, which is the holy book for Muslims, was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and Eid al-Fitr is the feast that marks the end of this holy month and the beginning of the next month, Shawwal. Eid is also a celebration for having a successful month of fasting, praying and refraining from all negative actions, thoughts and words and is a way of paying respect to Allah.
Eid or Eid al-Fitr is one of the most major celebrations observed by Muslims across the globe, on this day devotees congregate in large numbers to attend prayers and sermons. On this day, Muslims are free to eat as they please after a month of fasting from dawn to dusk. Feasts are prepared in every household and dishes like pulao, saalan, biryani, haleem, nihari, kebabs, kofte and much more make for a delicious spread, and classic desserts seviyan (sweet vermicelli), sheer korma (vermicelli cooked in sweetened milk topped with nuts, spices), shahi tukda and phirni are served to family members, guests and visitors. Muslims wear new clothes, dress up in fancy attires and greet their near and dear ones with wishes of Eid Mubarak. Gifts, food, sweets are distributed on this occasion and children are often given money and gifts from their elders which is known as Eidi. While Eid this year may be low-key like it was last year on account of the coronavirus pandemic, it is best to have simple celebrations with only those living with you and to not congregate in large numbers, or to go for mass prayers to mosques.