Eid — Physical Ritual, Mental Reboot

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

First of all, Muslims celebrate multiple Eids.

This piece of mine is about answering the question about the most popular variant outlined above — Eid-ul-Fitr. The answer to this requires some context, so let me begin. Muslims have had a history of disagreements over bloodlines leading to sub-groups of followers, be it the relatively more known Shia/Sunni division, or it’s further sub-sects — I happen to be a “Bohri” muslim of the Shia sub-division. But one thing they collectively agree about is the auspiciousness of the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, the holy month of Ramzan — in which Allah revealed the Quran to Prophet Muhammad to guide true believers on their righteous path.

You may also have heard it pronounced as “Ramadan” following it’s original Arabic origin, unlike the Urdu variant with the z-sound which most of the Indian subcontinent follow.

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.

At least that’s what the intentions are, to spend the entire days devoted to God and the hereafter, and less on worldly desires and activities. Admittedly, this becomes a tough balance in the modern world with the regularity of “worldly” tasks and entertainment (read: distractions) literally available at the palms of your hands, but we try to manage.

So, why do Muslims fast?

Coming back to the initial question, Eid thus comes at the end of the month of Ramzan. Amidst the complexities of the Muslim divisions I mentioned earlier, even the calculation of what’s a month can differ. Though the Islamic calendar is different from the English one, since it is based on the lunar cycle, some Muslims base the calendar days on astronomical sightings of the moon, while others base it on arithmetic calculations — still based on the moon, but hybrid with the touch of certainty as opposed to probability. The Bohris fall into the latter and we do not look for the moon to be sighted to proclaim “Hey, it’s Eid!”.

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?”

Which also reminds me that my current Eid vacation is about to end, and with a renewed sense of self-confidence and belief I will head back soon to work and worldly affairs. Until next Eid, when the cycle restarts.

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