Ramadan + Eid

As a Muslim, one of the biggest celebrations in the Islamic calendar (which is based on the lunar cycle) consist of: Ramadan and Eid (al-Fitr). Flashback to my childhood days, I remember being in Pakistan and India during the months of Ramadan or Eid and my surroundings were full of festive Ramadan talks and Eid celebrations. Flashback to about 4 years ago when I went wedding shopping in Pakistan, we were fortunate enough to be still there for the first few weeks of Ramadan and it was such a delight to be in an Islamic country during this holy month, especially as an adult, where I was able to soak in all the memories.
In Pakistan the month of Ramadan is celebrated with numerous prayers and rituals. I remember the Men would go visit the mosque to perform prayers while the Women did the same at home. I would wake up to the sound of EARLY morning prayer Azan (prayer call) that was heard from a mosque miles away. Every morning special foods were served which are unique to this month’s breakfasts. A popular breakfast food that I remember being served in Pakistan (literally with LINES of people at the sweets dukaan/shop) was the Halwa Puri combo as well as cholay (chickpeas). Then in the evening people prepare special refreshing drinks made of rose water (raise your hand if the words "rooh afza" make your heart skip a beat!) and fresh lemonade, and many different kinds of deep fried dishes. The bazaars(shops) opened late and usually have a break during the evening prayers and then re-opened again till about 10 PM or midnight. I remember during the first few weeks of Ramadan that we were there, all restaurants, food stalls in the streets and even the "Paan shops" closed and it was frowned upon to eat or drink in public.
Ever wonder...what exactly is this month full of happiness...giving...praying and err...fasting from sunrise to sunset without any form of food or water that about 1.6 billion Muslims celebrate worldwide? 
In Islam there are five pillars that every practicing Muslim must fulfill in his or her lifetime. Ramadan (month of fasting) is one of the pillars. The sole purpose of Ramadan is to be in abstinence from certain earthly pleasures and curbing away from certain intentions and desires. Fasting during this month is regarded as an act of obedience and submission to Allah (God) as well as an atonement for sins, errors, and mistakes. Muslims will fast from sunrise to sunset without any form of water or food. Fasting during this month is done out of the deep love for God. Islamically, it is obligatory for every sane, able and healthy Muslim.

And then after Ramadan, there’s Eid. Eid is such a wonderful joyous celebration at the end of the month long Ramadan cycle. Not just Eid al-Fitr but any Eid is a special treat for Muslims, and especially the children. Eid al-Fitr (end of Ramadan) is a delightful 3-day celebration of breaking the fast. It is a time to give to charity and to those in need, and celebrate with family and friends the completion of a month of blessings and joy aka Ramadan. During these three days, muslim families donate food and money to charity, gather early in the morning in (usually) outdoor locations or mosques to perform the Eid prayer and sermon, and after the prayers, families usually scatter to visit various family and friends, give gifts (especially to children), and make phone calls to distant relatives. Many Islamic countries, Eid is celebrated via a 3-day holiday from all official government jobs and school. One day before Eid, as a Muslim, you should give a determined amount as a form of donation to those in need. Sadqa-al-fitr is a donation in the form of money, rice, barley, dates etc. to insure that the less fortunate have a holiday meal and are able to participate in the celebrating of Eid.

The first day of Ramadan changes every year because of the Lunar calendar. This year, Ramadan will begin sometime during the first week of June and will end exactly one month after that (July). If you are planning to celebrate Ramadan and Eid this year, Rasmin & I wish you Ramadan & Eid Mubarak!