Eid Al-Fitr Celebration in Different Countries, Emdad Khan
Eid in Arabic means festival and Fitr means breaking, thus Eid al-Fitr, the Feast of Breaking the Fast , is the most important Muslim festival, same as Christmas in the Christian world. It is celebrated in the Muslim world and as well as many of the western world where a substantial Muslim migrants are present. It is observed on the first of the month of Shawwal, as a reward from God at the end of the month of Ramadan, after a long period of fasting.
It is also similar to Easter, but gradually becoming a cultural celebration from a spiritual celebration. A large number of Muslims, in the Muslim world as well as living in the west, celebrate Eid al-Fitr without having fasted during Ramadan. Many Muslims living in the West, consider Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr are part of cultural identity, beyond the spiritual obligation to fast during the month of Ramadan.
The Islamic calendar is lunar, hence the day of the Eid Al-Fitr changes each year. Eid al-Fitr is determined by viewing the new crescent moon in the sky and in modern times some follow astronomical calculations as the sign that Eid Al-Fitr has started. This has resulted in Eid al-Fitr being celebrated on different days in different countries.
Eid al-Fitr has a special early morning prayer and generally offered in an open field or large halls. Special Food items are central to all countries in the form of grand family, friend and community feasts as well as getting and giving Eid gifts, visiting friends and relatives.
All countries Eid al-fit are very similar with a mix of spiritual side with country specific cultural side. We list few countries across as the Eid festivities are celebrated
The South Asia: Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan (BIP)
In south Asia, with minor differences, the Eid Al-Firs is celebrated in the similar fashion. Eid al-Fitr is celebrated over a three-day public holiday. The night before Eid is called ‘Chaand Raat’ , Women and girls apply henna on their hands and feet. Elders distribute gifts, money or sweets, called Eidi. Special sweets like Seviyan (vermicelli pudding), Haleem (mutton stew), Kebabs and Nihaari Gosht are big attractions. Families’ together visit shopping malls and bazaars with their families for Eid shopping.
Source, Eid Prayer in India: http://www.theholidayspot.com/eid_ul_fitr/images/eid-indian.jpg
The Eid greeting is Eid Mubarak, and is often followed by a formal embrace. Gifts are given frequently, new clothes being part of the tradition. Children offer salam to adult relatives.
Some families to go to graveyards and pray for the salvation of deceased family members after the Eid prayers. Families visit neighbors and family members, to get together to share snacks, sweets, and special Eid meals which include some special dishes that are prepared specifically on Eid. Special traditional dishes in Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh include sivayyan/শিমাই or Lachcha/লাচ্চা or a dish of toasted and fine sweet vermicelli noodles with dried fruit and milk.
On Eid day, people donate a charity commonly known as fitra before prayers. Many people also utilize this opportunity to distribute an Islamic obligatory Zakat of 2.5% of one’s annual savings, to the poor. Zakat is often distributed in the form of new clothes and food.
Muslims gather in open filed (Eid Ghah) or big masjids to perform Eid prayer and celebrate Eid. Men, Women and children gather in thousands in a festive mood out, to celebrate as a joyful, excitement and fun festival. Many non-Muslims neighbours and friends also visit their Muslim friends and neighbors to part of the celebrations.
Source, Buying Bangles before Eid in Pakistan
Source, People returning to Village Home for Eid Prayer in Bangladesh
South East Asia: Indonesia and Malaysia:
In Indonesia and Malaysia the Eid is celebrated in same way. In Indonesia Eid  is known as Idul Fitri, or Lebaran, ‘ and in Malaysia as Hari Raya Aidilfitri, means ‘Celebration Day’is a national holiday.
People greet with “Salam Aidilfitri” or “Selamat Hari Raya, which means “Happy Eid”. Muslims also greet one another with “mohon maaf lahir dan batin”, which means “Forgive my wrongdoings, both emotional and physical” as EId-ul-fitri is not only a time for celebrations and enjoyment but also a time for self-atonement to beg for forgiveness for sins which they may have committed but was cleansed due to the fasting in the Muslim month of Ramadan
In the early morning, celebrated with firecrackers and children are given small amounts of money, also known as “duit raya”, from their elders or parents.
Shopping malls are filled with people to get new shoes, clothes and food items. Lebaran is celebrated in festive mood. The eid holodya is observed as public holiday. They prepare a special cake called ‘Kue Lapis Legit’, also known as the thousand-layer cake. It is inspired by the Dutch cuisine and is made with flour, butter and a host of spices.
The workers return to their home town or city to celebrate with their families is known as mudik, pulang kampung or homecoming to enjoy with their families and to plead forgiveness from elders, parents and in-laws.
The night before Eid is called takbiran. It is filled with the sounds of musallahs, people usually filling the street and also chanting takbir and those of many muezzins chanting the takbir in the mosques. Pelita or oil lamps, which are no different from tiki torches, are set alight and placed outside and around homes in many parts of Indonesia and Malaysia , and particularly in the rural areas.
From morning to afternoon during Eid, the zakat alms for poors are generally distributed in the mosques.
Indonesians and Malaysians wear traditional cultural clothing, Baju koko, a collarless long or short-sleeve shirt with traditional embroidered designs. Traditional female dress is called kebaya kurung, consists of, a loose-fitting kebaya blouse, which might be enhanced with brocade and embroidery.
People also visit the graves of loved ones post celebrations and recite the Quran and clean the graves. People take turns to define a specific time for open house when they stay at home to entertain and receive family, neighbors and other visitors. Non Muslims are also welcome during Eid at these open houses. They also adorn by lighting traditional bamboo cannon firecrackers known as meriam bambu Ramadhan.
Western World: USA, and Canada
In USA and Canada, Muslims are primarily, immigrants form different Muslim countries and some converts or in USA, the black Muslims. Eid is celebrated in similar way.
The Eid prayer are offered in Islamic centers, open parks or convention halls or masjids. Muslims from different cultures with multi-national customs gather for celebrations and prayers. Prayers are practiced multiple times to accommodate the large number of attendees in some cities.
In USA, the annual prayers are conveyed in New York, Houston, in Texas and many large cities throughout USA where there are large concentration if immigrant Muslims. In Canada, Eid prayers are held in the larger cities of Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Ottawa .
The Postal Service of USA and Canda have issued several Eid postage stamps, across several years, beginning from 2001, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.
Many Muslims join big parties funded either by an Islamic center or community mosque or by a wealthy Muslim in the community, during the 3 days of Eid. Children receive gifts, and all participants enjoy spicy, sweet and other flavorful delicacies. Students from schools usually take two to three days off. Many Muslims also provide money to those who are not so fortunate. Sometimes, Muslims book skating rinks, amusement parks or other activity centers for a whole day of fun.
Many Muslims will visit one another’s homes on Eid or the days following to attend assigned “open houses” in which everybody is welcome to visit. In the rural areas particularly, smaller Muslim communities hold other communal gatherings in rented community halls or mosques. Muslims also contribute to their local food banks or donate money on this day for those who are not so fortunate.
Arab Countries: Egypt and Saudi Arabia
Egypt : Eid al-Fitr is a three-day feast and an official holiday. Fish recipes form the centerpiece of the feast along with other delicacies like Fata and Kahk. The Eid day begins with a small snack which is followed by Eid prayers in assemblage attended by children, men and women. Friends, relatives and neighbors start greeting one another with “Eid Mubarak.”
Family visits are on the first day of the Eid. The other two days are to enjoy by going to cinemas, parks, theatres or the beaches. Some like to go on a Nile cruise or on tours. One favorite spot popularly considered for spending holidays in Egypt is harm El Sheikh.
Children are normally gifted new clothes to wear throughout the Eid. Also, women, especially mothers, wives, sisters and daughters are generally gifted special gifts by their loved ones. Children also receive, from their adult relatives, an Eid-ey-yah. Children will put on their new clothes and go out to gardens, amusement parks or public courtyards based on how much their Eid-ey-yah can afford. The amusement parks can range from the huge ones on the outskirts of Cairo-Nile, Felucca Nile rides being a common feature of Eid celebration in Egyptian towns, villages and cities.
Saudi Arabia : A common tradition that people will put large rugs on one of main streets of their neighbourhood and each household shares their meals with the others.
Eid al-Fitr is celebrated with sumptuous meals for family and friends and decorated homes and with great hospitality and generosity. After the Eid prayers, they gather at the patriarchal home. Young children will line up in front of each adult family member before the special Eid meal is served, who will dispense Eidi. Family members also distribute decorated gift bags, toys and candies, to the children.
Many shopkeepers will express their generosity during Eid by providing free Eid gifts with each purchase. Many Saudis go out of their way to show their kindness and generosity in the spirit of Eid. It is common for even complete strangers to greet each other randomly, even by occupants of vehicles halted at stop lights. Sometimes even gifts and toys will be distributed to children by complete strangers. People purchase large quantities of rice and other staples and then anonymously leave them at the doors of those who are needy and less fortunate. In some areas, people will put large rugs on one of the streets of their neighborhood and each household will cook a large meal where these meals will be shared by all neighbors. It is also a common practice that people will exchange places to try more than a particular kind of meal