Free Press Journal

Eid ul-Fitr 2018: Significance, moon sighting and all you need to know


Photo by BL SONI

Eid ul-Fitr is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims around the world.  The day marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy dawn-to-dusk fasting month of Ramadan. It is believed that Prophet Muhammad received the first revelation of Holy Quran during this month. The day of the festivity falls on the first day of the month of Shawwal. Every year the date of the festival varies based on the sighting of the new moon as well as the astronomical calculations. This year, Eid ul-Fitr is expected to fall on June 15 or 16. Every year, the date of Eid changes as the Muslim calendar is based on the phases of the moon.

People wake up early chant Salat ul-Fajr, followed by a breakfast before heading off to pray at a mosque or a prayer venue to perform special congregational prayers known as Salat al-Eid, consisting of two rakats. On their way to the prayer venue, Muslims also recite ‘takbir’. After Eid prayers, families visit graveyards and pray for the salvation of departed family members. Traditionally, the celebrations begin at the first sighting of the crescent moon. If the moon is not sighted on the 29th day of the previous lunar month then Eid is celebrated on the following day. Fasting on the day of Eid is forbidden. The night before Eid is called ‘Chaand Raat’ which literally means ‘Night of the Moon’. There is a tradition to distribute money among the poor. Eidi, gifts on Eid, are given to the children and immediate relatives. People also share Eid special meals and sweets with their friends and neighbours.

The Eid date remains a suspense till the last night as it completely depends on the sighting of the moon. If the moon is sighted in any part of India, Eid ul-Fitr is celebrated the next day. There are some sects that follow strict rules to establish that the moon has been sighted and rely on testimonies rather than scientific methods. On Thursday, June 14, after people break their fast, all eyes will be set on the sky to spot the moon. The crescent moon appears only for few minutes and if you miss the chance to spot it then you have to rely on sources.

Countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh started observing fast either on May 15 or 16. In India, places, where Muslims in thousands perform Eid prayers, are Jama Masjid in Delhi, Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, Aishbagh Idgah in Lucknow, Red Road and Nakhoda Masjid in Kolkata, Taj-ul-Masjid in Bhopal, Jama Mosque in Mumbai, Hazratbal Mosque in Kashmir.

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