Eid traditions carry onLet the children be glad! [Archives:2004/708/Culture]

February 2 2004

Ismail Al-Ghabiri
When the new moon is expected to appear, people go out to mosques and parks in order to have a glimpse of it. When a definite sighting is made, Eid Al-Fitr is declared, and children happily go out singing in the streets. It is easy to see happiness in children's eyes when the are taken by their parents to buy clothes and toys for the Eid.
Every one of us has special fond memories about Eid, not only about buying new clothes, but also about waiting for the first day of Eid to wear these clothes. It is as if an intimate meeting will take place between the children and their new clothes. Some of us remember how he or she sued to open his cupboard to look at these beautiful new things.
They are eager to wear these clothes and appear in front of their friends and relatives. Memory also holds the most beautiful moments of waiting for the happiness of wearing the new clothes which fades a few hours after taking them off. So the Eid starts before its date by a short time.
The Eid traditions are almost the same on the public and personal levels. In all nights of the Eid, people stay up late until the early hours of the following day. In all Islamic areas, everything starts at the dawn of the first Eid day. Children and adults go to the mosque to the Eid prayers. Everybody comes out of the mosque before sunrise to exchange the traditional greetings and felicitations – “kul aam wa antum bikhair” or many happy returns.
At the mosque, calls of Allahu Akbar or God is great rise to heaven. The faithful would feel his voice coming from deep within his soul and that he has an unlimited energy of light and ability to communicate with God. God's wisdom manifests itself not only in presenting the power of Muslims in their congregation, but also in creating the feeling that a person acquires more strength of conscience by being beside another Muslim praying to God.
A Muslim person may not even know the name of the other Muslim beside him or her, but knows that he or she is also honestly and spontaneously praying to God and calling Allahu Akbar.
This great meeting of Muslims during the first few hours of the Eid is a major celebration of this sacred occasion. These rituals have been known since the time of the Prophet Mohammed (P) when they were characterized by simplicity and solemnity, and were done in a quiet manner. With the passage of time, however, these rituals acquired a lot of variety and color.
Religious occasions during the time of the Abbasyd dynasty saw many social features. Men in the Caliph's entourage stayed with him throughout the night of the Eid until dawn broke. They then went to the mosque headed by the Caliph riding on a white horse and surrounded by his soldiers. People chanted in the street praising God and the Caliph who prayed in the mosque in front of other men and later delivered the Eid sermon. Upon the return of the Caliph's procession to the palace, banquets are held and poets recited their poems eulogizing the Caliph.
The first hours of the first morning of eid are similar in all Muslim towns and cities. After the dawn prayers and the exchange of felicitations, people start doing their own special traditions which differ from one country to another. Many people visit their relatives and friends to exchange greetings. Some people nowadays use the telephone for this purpose. Eid is truly a happy occasion for all Muslims. For this reason new habits have appeared in many Muslim societies. Children in particular engage in many festive activities. The first thing a child looks forwards to is the “Eidia” or the gift money given by the child's senior relatives. The amount of money given varies according to the seniority and closeness of that relative. This Eidia is seen as a huge fortune by the little children who use it to buy sweets or go to parks and fun fares.
Thus, Eid is an opportunity of children to become grownups for a short period of time. They start to behave as if they are an economic establishment. They save their money and divide the expenditure over the Eid days. It is very joyful to see children in their bright colored clothes playing in parks and enjoying themselves.
There is no doubt that Eid belongs to children immediately after its early hours. Some children accompany their parents, while, others prefer to be independent and go together with their friends to the place they themselves choose. So Eid is a good opportunity for a little child to feel his or her independence for the first time. Some of us may remember those moments when we felt that we didn't want to ask the older people for Eidia because we felt that we had become adults and were far removed from the world of childhood.
During the last few years, new habits have entered our lives that became gradually connected with Eid. Radio, TV, and now satellite TV are competing with each other to bring happiness to the people during Eid. Various programs, happy songs, comedy plays, films and other activities are presented during Eid.
As long as people stay at home then Eid is connected with food. Each Eid has its own special types of food. Eid is celebrated by the artists and ordinary people alike who find a lot of opportunity to express themselves. The main Eid celebrations, though, are performing its religious rituals when people are united by the words “There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is His Prophet”. These awe-inspiring words arouse feelings of reverence among the faithful. The hearts of all Muslim people look forward to the next Ramadhan.