Eid — Physical Ritual, Mental Reboot

First of all, Muslims celebrate multiple Eids.

And the word “Eid” means “Feast”. The most popularly known Eid is the Eid-ul-Fitr — ‘Fitr’ means to break, signifying the end of a month of fasting. The next one is Eid-ul-Adha — ‘Adha’ means to sacrifice, signifying the sacrifice of Prophet Abraham to keep God’s wish. Next, the birth of Prophet Mohammed is celebrated as Eid-Milad-Un-Nabi — ‘Milad’ meaning birthday and ‘Nabi’ meaning prophet.

Bohri Muslims have a distinct way of eating with the family in a mega-sized plate called “Thaal” synonymous to the Hindi word “Thaali”

So, Eid is the day of celebration after a month-long dawn-to-dusk abstinence during Ramzaan, with no water or food in between — only you and God.

Note that I use the word abstinence, which is much more than just fasting — it’s not only about the physical aspects of refraining from food and water, but also the mental rigour required to keep your mind devoid of any distracting or sinful thoughts and activities in general. It is also about keeping yourself focused on doing good to society and practicing self-accountability. The mental cleansing and blooming becomes the byproduct of the physical abstaining.

So, why do Muslims fast?

The sustained fasts of Ramzaan do not aim to imprint thirst, hunger and deprivation on the believers. Instead, they seek to furnish their soul’s life force. It is this spirit — the “ruḥ” — which God breathed into us, transfiguring us from composted clay into creatures of fair form and glimmering soul, that the world stifles. Ramzaan is the mechanism to galvanize that life force. It burns away worldly obstruction, diversion, and indulgence so we can re-center our lives and focus our minds on our first-order existence. It helps us to breathe with the remembrance of God again and to lift up the praises of the One who created us.

The largely identifiable moon-sighting picture for proclaiming Eid, quite popular in Whatsapp forwards for sure

Therefore, the “when” of Eid can be subjective, but to generalize it will always remain at the end of the month of Ramzan. That’s the constant.

As I had mentioned before, I’ve been asked many a times, “When is Eid, this time?”

So, while the palpable excitement of waiting for its glimpse eludes us Bohris and others who follow the arithmetic lunar calendar, we are always certain of when Eid and other such religious events are. It sure helps me plan my office leaves with bulls-eye confidence.

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