November 03, 2005


I take this opportunity to wish every person I can reach with this weblog a happy Eid. Let the festivity touch everybody and let us hope for a peacefull coexistence of people of all color, religion and race in the world without hatred or friction. I also wish everybody a happy Diwali which took place a couple of days ago. Probably tomorrow (4th of November) will be the Eid day in Bangladesh depending on the sighting of the moon.

Eid (means festivity in Arabic) is a Muslim festival. After the month of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting and abstinence, on the first day of the month Shawwal. This Eid, the Eid-ul-Fitr (first of the two in a year) is to celebrate the joyous 'Festival of fast breaking'. It is celebrated all over the world according to different cultures and customized celebrations.

In Bangladesh, Eid means sharing happiness with the family, giving new clothes of all colors to all dependent members of the family and wearing them on this day. Eid shopping for self and others is a great festivity itself, which will go on till the Eid day. On this day special foods are prepared, the preparation of which may start several days before. The items include Semai(vermicelli), Doi Bara, Chotpoti, Biriani, Firni, Sweets and many more. This day there is an open invitation to everybody. In the morning people perform the obligatory Eid prayer mostly in mosques. There are special grounds prepared for praying en-masse and there may be a crowd of well over 100,000 in one congregation in some places.

People visit family members, neighbors and acquaintances’ houses and everybody is welcomed with food and blessings. Even the non-Muslims are welcome and included in the celebration. People embrace one another (for the male) irrespective of status or age. They also visit the graves of the relatives and pious Muslims. It is a religious obligation on the day to pay fitra ( a dole) to the needy at a fixed rate as a thanks giving. People also pay clothes and money as zakaat to poor so that the poor, too, may enjoy the day along with others, and may not be worried for earning their livelihood at least on the day of happiness.

It is customary to take blessings from the elderly who in return give monetary tips (Eidi). Specially the children are more kin to collect all the tips they can accumulate and have some money to celebrate on their own, like going to theatre in bunch or having a party. The visits go on for a couple of more days till the Eid vacation is over. Some people go visit cemeteries to remember and pray for their loved ones.

Eid fairs and sports competitions are organized at many rural places. These fairs have merry-go-rounds, puppet shows, spiritual concerts and bioscopes and many handicrafts are sold. Boat race, kabadi, football and even cricket matches are organized which draw a lot of crowd. The Eid holidays last from minimum three days upto an week making all these possible.

travelling dangerously
(Picture courtesy the Daily Independent)

The remarkable thing in celebrating Eid in Bangladesh is the family bonds. No matter how far one is from the family for the whole year, he/she will go back to the ancestral home and celebrate Eid with kith and kins. E.g. Dhaka, being a mega city has a population well over 11 million. Almost 40%-50% of the population travel to their village/small town home causing a great rush in traffic (and some accidents) just before and after the Eid holidays. But this pain is part of the happiness of celebrating together.

I will be staying in Dhaka as my family, friends and relatives are mostly based here. However, these people will be in my thoughts and prayers.


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