Eid al-Fitr is also known as Hari Raya in countries where Malay is spoken; Şeker Bayramı in Turkey; Choti Eid in Pakistan; and Hari Lebaran in Indonesia.
Eid al-Fitr falls on the first day of the Islamic lunar month of Shawwal, which begins at the end of Ramadan. The date varies from year to year. In 2015, Eid al-Fitr falls on 18 July.
Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five basic tenets of Islam. For 30 days Muslims refrain from eating and drinking between sunrise and sunset. This is also a time to focus on religious teachings, give to charity, and perform pious deeds. The end of Ramadan is marked by a three day celebration known as Eid al-Fitr. It is the biggest celebration in the Muslim calendar and is a time to eat, drink and rejoice with family and friends.
Night of the moon
For many Muslims the anticipation of Eid al-Fitr begins the night before, when family and friends go out to catch sight of the new moon. Eid is not officially celebrated until the imams or religious scholars officially announce that the new moon has been sighted. As Pakistani food writer Shayma Saadat explains, “The night before Eid al-Fitr is known as Chand Raat [in Pakistan], ‘Night of the Moon’, which is a celebration of the sighting of the new moon. This is when the festivities begin – young girls scurry off to bazaar to buy candy-coloured glass bangles to match their Eid outfits and have intricate designs tattooed on their hands with henna. Once the moon has been sighted, the food preparations begin at home.”
Feasting with family and friends
Muslims start the first day of Eid by getting up before sunrise, washing themselves and donning brand new clothes, usually bought especially for the celebration. Fajr (dawn) prayers are then offered as well as special Eid prayers. Family members then get together to wish each other “Eid Mubarak”, or a similar such greeting. In places like Pakistan, children are gifted small amounts of money known as eidi. Food then begins to play a central role in celebrations.
As Shayma tells us, “In my ancestral home in Lahore [in Pakistan], on Eid al-Fitr our table is laid out with fruit chaat - a spiced fruit salad of whichever fruit is in season; soft, finger-thin sandwiches slathered with a mix of chicken, grated carrots and mustard; cholay chaat - a spicy chickpea, green chilli, tomato and onion salad dusted with squirted with lime juice; methai - sweet meats in kitsch colours; and shir khurma – a vermicelli pudding cooked for hours in sweet milk and flavoured with dates, serving as the centrepiece. Dainty glass bowls are placed on the table, ready to be filled with shir khurma, which arrives from the kitchen as guests stream in throughout the day.”
Observing the festival in Australia
For many Muslims in Australia, like with Muslims around the world, Eid al-Fitr starts with saying prayers in mosques like Lakemba Mosque in Sydney, greeting each other with “Eid Mubarak”, before sharing a feast with family and friends at their homes. Special community events such as Eid in the park are also celebrated in the big cities.
2. Shir khurma
For more Eid al-Fitr recipes, head to our recipe collection here.