Discover the different Ramadan traditions and Eid celebrations around the world
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims must not eat or drink anything during fasting hours, as an act of one of the five pillars of Islam. The fasting is an act of worship for Allah, and marks the month in which Allah contacted the prophet Mohammad and gave him the verses of the Qu’ran. Muslims must also abstain from smoking and all sexual relations during Ramadan.
The Eid al-Fitr festival marks the end of 30 days of fasting between sunrise and sunset for Muslims. The end of the fasting is observed by a morning of prayer, followed by a day of feasting and celebrations with family and friends. The celebrations are the greatest of the year with many dressing in their finest clothes, visiting friends and family, and giving gifts to mark the occasion. Throughout the world you will see and hear the phrase ‘Eid mubarak’, which means a blessed Eid.
This year Ramadan began on May the 5th, and concludes on the 4th of June. So we look at the Ramadan traditions and Eid celebrations and customs around the world.
In Egypt the end of the fast is celebrated with fanous: beautiful and intricate lanterns made of tin and coloured glass. These are to be found lining the streets and decorating Mosques. You may also see children in the streets carrying their fanous, singing and asking for gifts and treats during the holy month.
Thanks to an accidental firing of a new canon over 200 years ago, the Egyptian Ottoman ruler Khosh Qadam unwittingly started a new Ramadan tradition which has become part of traditions in Lebanon. Now cannons are fired daily during Ramadan to signal both the beginning and end of the day’s fast.
Every morning throughout the month of Ramadan, the streets of Turkey are filled with drummers dressed in traditional dress who wake families up for suhoor (the pre-dawn meal). It is custom to give the drummers tips or invite them in to share your meal before sunrise. Today, there are over 2000 drummers across Turkey every Ramadan.
The month before Ramadan, on the 15th day, the children of the UAE take part in the tradition of haq al laila. This tradition sees children dress in brightly coloured clothing, as they walk the streets collecting sweets and nuts from the people of their neighbourhood. The children collect their goodies in bags called kharyta and sing traditional songs.
In Pakistan, the Eid celebrations begin after the last sundown of Ramadan. This is when the Chaand Raat celebrations and preparations begin, in readiness of Eid the next day. The women of the family will begin these preparations by visiting the local bazaars to buy jewellery/bangles and to get henna applied for the Eid celebrations. Thanks to these lively preparations, shops, bazaars and even make shift stalls will be open late into the night before Eid.
In a centuries-old tradition, members of the Roma Muslim community in Albania mark the start and end of the daily fast with traditional songs. Walking up and down the streets of their community, the Roma Muslims play double ended drums called lodra and sing traditional songs to let all the Muslim families know when to start and end their fasting.
In a tradition that goes back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad, the nafar wakes up the community with his music and the use of a horn. The nafar is a kind of town crier, who walks the streets every morning during Ramadan dressed in traditional attire, who’s responsibility it is to wake everyone for their meal before sunrise called the Suhoor.
The man responsible for this is chosen by the community for his attributes of honesty and empathy. It is a great honour to be chosen, and his morning wake up calls are met by great thanks by the community.
The start of Ramadan is marked by a cleansing ritual the day before, often observed by Muslims in Indonesia who plunge themselves entirely into springs. This symbolises an act of purification, and springs have spiritual significance in the Javanese culture. Others will perform the act of purification in swimming pools, lakes, or at home.
In Iraq, after the men in the country have broken their fast in the evening, they head out late at night to play a very traditional Iraqi game. Mheibes brings together men in large numbers over the course of Ramadan, with anything from 40 to 250 men participating in a single game.
Eid, and the end of Ramadan, in South Africa is marked by the first official sighting of the crescent of the new moon. In Cape Town maan kykers, appointed by the Muslim Judicial Council, declare the official sighting from their view point atop one of the city’s high viewpoints looking out to the sea. Once the new moon sighting has been declared, the Eid celebrations can begin.
At Santa Fe Relocation we want to wish all a happy Eid Mubarak. If you are moving to a new country and would like some help getting to know the traditions, culture and language of your new home, we’re here to help.