Eid al-Fitr, or Eid as it is popularly known, is one of the most important religious holidays for Muslims and it is known as the blessed festival of breaking fast, which is celebrated by Muslims across the world. Eid also go by different names in Muslim majority Asian nations such as Malaysia, where it is known as ‘Hari Raya Aidilfitri’, and Indonesia, where it is called ‘Hari Lebaran’.
It marks the end of the month of Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and is considered the holiest month. According to the Quran, it is during Ramadan that the guidance for mankind was revealed. It is also the month when Prophet Muhammad first received revelations.
During this month, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, abstaining from all food and drink, avoiding negative behaviour and refraining from impure thoughts. Showing restraint during this time is considered part of giving appreciation to God for all His blessings and learning compassion for the less fortunate.
Muslims usually journey to their hometowns on the eve of the Eid festival to be with their extended families. On the morning of Eid, Muslims seek forgiveness from family members and then head to the mosque to pray. After conducting their prayers, Muslims usual return to their homes to eat with their family, friends, and neighbours.
In Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia, Muslim families usually have ‘rumah buka’, which means an open house, where they open up their houses to neighbours to join in the celebrations.
During the Eid celebrations, the streets of major cities like Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and Jakarta, the streets are often draped in spectacular decorations that are brightly lit at night.
Eid is also a time to catch up with family, visit friends and enjoy treats and goodies together. Some of the common dishes eaten during Eid in Asia are curry chicken, beef rendang , chicken satay, rose syrup, cakes, cookies, and tarts. A popular dish featured during this festival are special rice cakes known as ‘ketupat’, which are rice cakes encased in coconut leaves. The coconut leaves give the rice cakes an aromatic coconut smell.
Another popular favourite is ‘lemang’, which is made by stuffing glutinous rice into segments of bamboo and slowly roasting them over charcoal. The result is a sticky rice with a delicious smoky bamboo flavour that goes well will curries and beef rendang.
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