Barka Da Sallah
The celebration that symbolises purification, Eid ul Fitr marking the end of Ramadan al-Mubarak, the holy month of fasting for Muslims around the world, is around the corner. Eid being a festivity to purify is also an occasion for repentance after the cleansing by fasting when Muslims seek forgiveness from each other for their wrongdoings. Known also as 'Ramadan Eid' or 'Smaller Eid', it boggles the mind how the Muslim ummah is unified in such diversity.
In Indonesia, the largest Muslim country, the day is called Idul Fitri or more commonly Hari Lebaran. Imagine wishing someone on Hari Raya Puasa or Aidilfitri or Hari Raya Aidilfitri, but that is exactly what you would be expected of on Eid day in Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei. Go to southern India and the Tamil would be celebrating Nonbu Perunaal on the first day of the month of Shawwal al-Mukarram.
Call it Riyoyo or Riyayan in Javanese, Boboran Siyam in Sudanese, Uroë Raya Puasa in Acehnese (Aceh and Sumatra), Korite in Senegal, Kochnay Akhtar in Pashto, Eid-e Sa'eed-e Fitr in Persian, Choti Eid in Urdu, Cheriya Perunnal in Malayalam, Ramazanski Bajram in Bosnian, Bajram in Albanian, Cejna Remezanê in Kurdish, they all mean Rojar Eid as in our Bangladesh.
In Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Central African Republic and Cameroon Eid is Sallah and it is Ramazan Bayrami for the Turkic peoples across a vast area from Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean to Siberia and Western China.
Eid Ka Lay or Shai Mai Eid (because of shemai) is celebrated in neighbouring Myanmar, although the savoury dish is also prepared on the day in lands afar as Afghanistan and Fiji. In Tunisia they distribute Baklava among friends and relatives.
Eid also varies in the manner it is observed. The Shias of Iran regard Eyde Fetr as a day of charity and a private affair whence the well-to-do distribute food and money among the poor, and they visit the elderly, and meet up with families and friends.
In the subcontinent, as soon as the Eid crescent is known to have been sighted, the joyous chaand raat commences when punjabee-wallahs will sell more than they will throughout the year and young girls will have their hands laced in henna. Here too the kolakuli is more vigorous. Eidee (money) that youngsters are gifted for exchanging salaam and the embrace with the elders, and visiting the grave of near and dear ones are somewhat unique to the region.
There is a 'moon-night' in Cape Town where traditionally hundreds of people gather at Green Point neighbourhood for the sighting of the moon on the last day of Ramadan each year. The gathering brings together people from all walks of life, and everyone comes with something to share with others at the time of breaking the fast. The Maghrib prayer is then conducted and the sighting of the moon is announced thereafter.
In Indonesia and Malaysia, on chaand raat, the air is rendered solemn with Allahu Akbar being chanted from masjids. In the rural areas, oil lamps glow outside the houses, as they do in several other festivals of different religions in this region.
The Eid bonus that is often the thorn in labour relations in Bangladesh is legally mandated for all employees in Indonesia. Known as Tunjangan Hari Raya it is enforced by the Indonesian government, violating of which is a very serious labour law infraction and punished severely, regardless of employer status or position.
Eid day is a holiday in several non-Muslim countries, as in the Philippines since 2002 as a mark of respect to the Muslim-Filipino community and to promote peace among major religions. It is also a public holiday in some regions of mainland China, where Eid ul-Fitr is celebrated by 10 of the 56 ethnic groups, totalling 18 million. Outside the Muslim regions, only Muslims have a one-day holiday. Bangladeshis are looking forward to a five-day holiday this coming Eid, more from the communications aspect than religious.
Obviously the greeting is not simply Eid Mubarak despite the globalism. In Istanbul on Eid day you would be greeted with 'Bayraminiz Kutlu Olsun'. Are you not glad I told you that before you landed in Ankara? In Malaysia be prepared to hear 'Selamat Idul Fitri'. And if you hear 'Barka Da Sallah' you can be sure you are in Nigeria or within hearing range of a Nigerian soccer player in Bangladesh.
To me and I am sure to many of you out there no Eid-ul-Fitr is complete without that eternally magical melody that drains out all the lassitude of the rigorous month that was: Oye Ramzan-er oye Rozar seshey elo khushir Eid... Eid Mubarak!
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