Beirut: Muslims across the Middle East and beyond began marking the Eid Al Fitr holidays yesterday, one of the most celebrated holidays for the world’s 1.5 billion faithful and traditionally a time for family and festivities.
Usually a festive occasion, this year’s Eid comes amid war and turmoil in more than one area.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban has said it will not mark Eid with a cease fire, as they did last year.
In Sudan, dozens were killed amid a break-up of protests by the ruling military.
In Lebanon and Iraq, Sunnis began celebrating yesterday whereas Shiites will celebrate today. Pakistan traditionally celebrates a day after most of the Muslim world. Pakistan is also split within the country along geographical lines, with residents of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province, located on the border with Afghanistan and dominated by ethnic Pashtuns, celebrating Eid on Tuesday. The new moon was apparently spotted in North Waziristan, while the rest of Pakistan will celebrate on Wednesday.
The holiday traditionally lasts one to three days and is eagerly anticipated after the month of fasting. Most businesses close during Eid, as people dress up and visit relatives, enjoying their first daytime meals in a lunar month. Mosques hold special prayers at sunrise, and children are often given gifts or a special allowance.
WHAT IS EIDIYA?
• The tradition of gifting money or Eidiya to younger siblings, nieces and nephews in Arab and Muslim families is still a very essential part of Eid Al Fitr. Some people distribute new banknotes as Eidiya to children, while others share gold coins.
• The amount of money given differs from one family to another, while some families do not only give children, but the older generation as well.
• Eidiya is not only distributed after Eid breakfast — it is also given while going door-to-door to greet neighbours and friends over a cup of Arabian coffee and chocolates.