As the Muslims community around the world gets ready to celebrate Eid al-Fitr on Friday July 17th. Growing up in India with friends from different religions, regions and speaking different languages and celebrating each others festivals made my childhood very rich and fulfilling.
Many years later now living in the US, I feel extremely fortunate to have friends from different cultures and faiths. Paraphrasing president Obama’s speech earlier this year ” We are a nation of immigrants. Our vast array of traditions and perspectives and background — our melting pot — is what makes our America unique. It’s what keeps us fresh, dynamic and entrepreneurial.”
I find a great parallel between India and America and feel blessed to have been born in a secular country like India and equally blessed to be living in a secular country like America.
Festivals are wonderful traditions in any faith and they remind us to take time out from our day to day hectic life and focus on issues beneficial to our souls and to others.
Festival of Eid is the first day of SHAWWAL and is based on the observation of new Moon by the Muslim religious authorities. The day of Eid begins with people gathering early in the morning in the mosques or outdoor squares to perform Eid prayers. Gift and sweets are exchanged. Homes, buildings and streets are decorated with lights and flowers. Children are gifted money and new clothes.
Eid al Fitr is celebrated at the end of Ramadan: the Islamic holy month of dawn to sunset fasting (SAWM), self reflection, infinite love and spiritual awakening. I believe that when the mouths are shut minds are open and when tongues are silent hearts begin to speak!
Charitable giving is at the core of Ramadan and Eid. Muslim families donate actual food items to the poor in their communities so everyone can enjoy the holiday meal. This donation is known as SADAQAH AL FITR : (charity of fast breaking).
This wonderful tradition of charity is universal in every faith and during every major festival, be it Diwali, Baisakhi, Hanukkah, Christmas or Eid. Growing up in India, my parents taught my brother and I that if you are blessed with abundance its your obligation or rather its your privilege to share your abundance with those less fortunate. Share your blessings and your love and see the magic unfold all around you.
Eid Mubarak to everyone!