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23. 09. 2017
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RAMZAN; EID-UL-FITR; EID-UL-ZUHA AND MILAD-UL-NABI FESTIVALS

It is believed that God conveyed the message of Koran to Hazrat Mohammad through Gabriel in the days of Ramzan. Since the Muslim calendar called the Hijri is not synchronized with the English (Gregarian) Calendar, the month of Ramzan keeps on occurring at different dates. All through this month the devout Muslims keep strict fast during the day. Those who know the Koran by heart recite it, completing the recitation within the month. After the sun-set namaz is offered and then fast is broken. Before sun-rise only and after sunŽset, the devouts Partake of any food. For the early morning meal, known as "Sehri', generally cooked in milk are preferred and tea or water drunk. No sooner the 'Sehri' is over than the call to prayer is heard from the minarets and mosques. The period of fasting begins and nothing is to be taken till the sun is set. On hearing the call for prayer, men and children set off for the nearest mosque. The women stay at home. They wash their faces, hands and feet and line up for prayer. After tarrying a while to recitation from the holy Koran, they go about their daily chores.

After this, everyone is ready for the day. The women get busy with homework, bureaucrats set off for thier officers, workers for their factories, tradesmen for their stores. Thus the fasting during Ramzan in no way affects the usual routine of duty. On the contrary, people work with greater devotion than usual for they derive a spiritual strength from their fasting and hence feeling closeness with God.

As the sun sets, the call for the maghrib prayers issues from the minarets. This is the signal for the Muslims to terminate their fast for the day. It is called 'Iftar'. It is customary to break the fast with a sip of water, a few dates or some other fruits. Some women chew a piece of rock salt. Thereafter they may eat or drink anything not forbidden by Islamic law.

The food that is taken in Iftar is called Iftari and much trouble is taken over-preparing the Iftari. Special delicacies-sauces made of tamarind, fried cornflower, boiled grams and lentils, meat kababs and sweetmeats — are great favourites. If the month of Ramadan falls when the weather is hot, a variety of sharbats are prepared.

After the iftari feast is over, the evening prayer 'Maghrib' is said. Then is time for dinner and after that for the night prayer (the Isha Namaz). The prayer is accompanied by the 'Taravih' prayer. And then the people retire. Thus pass the twenty-nine or thirty days of Ramzan. (also called Ramadan). If the new moon appears after 29 days there is another day of fasting to make it exactly thirty days. The sighting of the new moon brings the glad tidings off Eid-ul-Fitr and the end of the month of Ramadan.

Eid-ul-Fitr. Eid-ul-Fitr means the joy at the end of the days of fasting. This is the day following the appearance of the new moon which is celebrated with great enthusiasm. All Musalmans put on their best clothes and assemble in mosques, Eidgahs or in some open space and line up for prayer. The Eid prayer is recited between the early morning and noon prayers. As soon as the prayer is over, people embrace and wish each other : "Eid Mubarak !" (Felicitations for the festival of Eid).

This festival is particularly favourite of children. The moment they hear that the new moon has been sighted they jump in joy and begin laying out the clothes they will wear the next morning. They- the boys-select the caps they will be wearing for the Eid prayers while the girls insist on having their 'dupattahs' dyed in the colour matching with their new dresses. This is the most joyous occasion in any Muslim household.

In order to celebrate the festival with greater enthusiasm, the shop-keepers, with the local administration's permission keep their shops open through-out the night so that people can by all they need and be able to celebrate Eid befittingly. No matter how late they went to bed, everyone is up early. And the children are up even earlier than their elders ! Before the grown ups have had time to bathe and change, the children are ready and impatiently waiting to accompany the men to the mosque or Eidgah. They are particularly thrilled because, before leaving, they are given some money known as 'Eidee' which is more than their usual pocket money. On the way back home they blow up the 'eidee' money on toys, balloons and sweets. Then they go to meet their grandparents, uncles and aunts who give them more 'eidee' and sweetmeats. There are especial delicacies prepared for Eid. Particularly 'Sevviyan' (vemicelli's sweet preparation) is the great favourite. 'Sheer Korma' cooked in milk with raisins and nuts is also invariably prepared. Besides these, there are several varieties of savoury dishes. In most areas, people of other faiths join Muslims in celebrating Eid.

Eid-ul-Zuha. It is one of the grandest Muslim festivals, and in also known as Bakrid. It falls on the 10th day of the Muslim month Zil-Hijja. There is an interesting story about the celebration.

One day, the renowned holy person, Hazrat Ibrahim was ordered by Allah in a dream to sacrifice his dearest thing. To Ibrahim his son Ishmail was the dearest. So, he decided to sacrifice his son on the altar of Allah. He sought the permission of the members of the family and bind folded himself so that at the time of sacrifice his love for the son may not deter him from the act. He struck his son with the sword but when he removed the fold from his eyes, to his great pleasure and surprise, he found that he had sacrified a 'ram' (some say a goat) instead of his son. Since then, a ram or goat or camel is sacrificed and distributed among the neighbours and relatives. This sacrifice of an animal also symbolizes that man's position in the creation is far more high than any beast and any sacrifice, however great, is a small thing for the sake of religion or Allah. The sacrificial ram or goat is reared with great care and is kept healthy and fat. Also, the condition of the sacrifice is that the man who does the sacrifice must be a man of character and deeply religious and pious.

Eid-ul-Zuha falls about two months and nine days after Eid-ul- Fitr. On this occasion, Muslim who can, go on pilgrimage to Mecca. The pilgrimage to Mecca is known as Haj. On this occasion, the Muslims go to the mosques in the morning to offer prayers to Allah, and then sacrifice the animal at home. The cooked meat is partaken by the friends and relations. The poor, needy and sick are given money, clothes, etc. in charity on this day. Children also get money and gifts from their elders. People embrace one another out of sheer joy and greet each other. Hindus also participate in the festivities and offer their good-wishes to their Muslim friends and well-wishers on this Eid of Sacrifice.

Milad-Ul-Nabi. The festival of Milad-Ul-Nabi or 'Bara Wafat' is celebrated with eclat and enthusiasm by the Muslims all over the world. It commemorates the birthday of Hazrat Mohammad and it falls on twelfth day of Rabi-ul-Awwal month. Prophet Mohammad was born in 571 AD, on April 12, in Mecca in Arabia. Abdullah was his father and Amina his mother. Khadiza was Mohammad's wife. That was the period of moral chaos and great anarchy. Mohammad spent his time in prayer and mediation in seclusion. He led the people on the path of morality and true religion.

On the day of Milad, the Prophet's teachings are repeated, the Holy Koran is read and recited and religious meetings are organised in the mosque. The devotees keep night vigil and spend their time in Namaz and reading Koran. They invite friends and relatives to feast.

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