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MUSLIM FESTIVALS

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Ramzan (ID-UL-FITR)

Id Ul Fitr is a festival that marks the end of the Ramzan period, and usually falls on a new moon night, in the month of April or May. Ramzan is the ninth month in the Muslim calendar. According to legend, the Holy Koran was revealed in this month. Ramzan is thus regarded as highly auspicious month and fasting and prayers mark it. Muslims keep a fast every day during Ramzan. The rituals associated with Id and Ramzan have remained unchanged for centuries. Muslims through out the world and in India observe fast throughout this month and eat and drink only in the night. All types of entertainments and ceremonies are shunned during this period as it is exclusively meant to dedicate oneself to Allah and show devotion by prayers at all the prescribed times, reciting Quran and celebrating nights with feasts and family get- together. Eid is the time for celebration and marks the happiness or festivity for the men and women who follow the doctrines of Islam. On the day of the festival Muslims gather in large groups at mosques, and offer their prayers or namaz. Id is one of the most important sacred festivals in the Muslim religion. Muslim people from all strata of the society dress up in new clothes to celebrate Id with great enthusiasm. Everybody greet each other on this day. Special dishes are prepared on this day to mark the festive occasion. Women prepare delicious sweetmeats at home, and vermicelli kheer (sweetened milk) is a popular dish

People also do a lot of charity on this auspicious day as a part of the festive rituals. Muslims in India give gifts in kind or cash to the needy and poor. The first Eid of the year is known as 'Eid-al-fitr' meaning 'breaking the fast'. The reason behind keeping fast during Ramadan refers to the legend of the Prophet Mohammed who left Mecca and undertook the journey to Medina in 622 AD, to join the other Muslims who had migrated to Medina to escape persecution in Mecca. During this period, he fasted for three days. Many years later, He was to receive a revelation from God, which stated that all followers of the Islam faith fasted for a certain number of days. According to Islamic belief fasting helps to develop self-control and a means of coming closer to Allah. It purifies one's soul. The festival is a day of joy and thanksgiving. The Muslims with great fanfare celebrate it. In India even Hindus also participate in the celebration.

Do Rakat Namaz, the Id-special prayer is performed in the morning in the mosque. Charitable gift, called Sadaqah Fitr, is a dole to break the fast. It is to be given to a needy person as thanksgiving. Even one who has not kept the rojas is expected to give alms. The amount to be gifted depends on one's essential needs and free from all encumbrances of debt. Even women in veil attend the prayers in special chambers. The 30-day fast is broken on Id-ul-Fitr with sumptuous feasts which people embrace each other three times, as is laid down in the Quran. The festival originated when after proclaiming Ramadan as the period of fasting and austerity, Prophet Muhammad announced a day for celebrations to reaffirm the feeling of Id-ul-Fitr brotherhood.