Nasir Muzahid :
In Bangladesh, an occasion, to celebrate with much enthusiasm, is a rare opportunity. Want, poverty, natural disaster and political chaos always create obstacles on the way to the happiness of such a country's civilian. Despite these limitations, some occasions come once in a year to let the people forget about the sufferings. Eid, Puja and Pohela Boishakh are such occasions for the Bangladeshi people. Since it's a Muslim majority country, Eid comes here with enormous merriment. In Islam, there are two main religious 'Joy' Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha. Eid-ul-Fitr brings joy and happiness together with a glorious opportunity to 'return to normalcy" for Muslims all over the world. Eid means 'joy' and Fitr are Arabic words. Eid means festival and 'Fitr' means to open, to break fasting, to go back to normal situation. Eid-ul-Fitr is the day of joy on the 1st of the month of Shawwal, when people return to the normal routine of life after completing the Siam (restraint) and fasting in the holy month of Ramzan. The month of Siam begins after the appearance of the new moon of the month of holy Ramzan and roza (fasting) closes on sighting the new moon of the next month of Shawwal. During this month Muslims keep themselves restrained from anger, sex, illusions and jealousy. For this reason, the word Fitr is also used in the sense of victory.
Observance of this great festival of piety had begun only 1385 solar years ago. Earlier this, there were two different festivals which didn't go to Islamic Shariah. The people of Madina used to observe two days, one named Nouroz that followed the full moon of Autumn and the other Mihirjan that followed the full moon of Spring and the celebrations included joy and delight, sports and funs of vulgar taste. These rites and rituals of the pre-Islamic era were contrary to the norms of Islam. Nouroz introduced by Jarathustra was the New Year's festival. But the duration of that festival was six days, only one of which was the Nouroz-e-am that the common people could celebrate. The remaining five days were earmarked for the elite and the rich people only. Similarly, the six-day festivities of Mihirjan also had only one day for celebrations by the common people. Thus these two festivals were marred by class differences, gaps between the poor and the rich, vanity of the riches and open demonstration of vulgarities.
Eid-ul Fitr started being observed as a festival immediately after the Hijrat (migration) of the Prophet Muhammad (Sm) to Madina. The Hadith narrated by Hazrat Anas (Ra) depicts the following: "after the great Prophet (Sm) arrived at Madina, he observed that the people of the town celebrate two special days with fanfare." He then asked, what were these days? The local people replied that they had been celebrating these two days since the Jaheli era. Then Rasulullah (Sm) said, "Allah gave you two other good days instead of these two. These are the days of Eid-ul-Azha and Eid-ul Fitr".
The Arabs inspired by the ideals of Islam started observance of Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul -Azha at the instructions of Rasulullah (Sm).
This led to the introduction of Eid-ul-Fitr, a festival of harmony free from class differences, filth and vulgarism.
In Bangladesh, Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated with great enthusiasm. The night before Eid is called 'Chand Raat', which means, 'Night of the Moon.' Muslims on this night visit bazaars and shopping malls for their last moment's Eid shopping while they buy clothe and special gifts for the family members and near and dear ones during the whole month of Ramzan. Women, especially younger girls, apply the traditional Mehndi, or hena, on their hands on Chand Raat.
On Eid day, everyone tries to dress well and prepare delicious foods according to their ability. They have the food before going to offer the special salat of Eid-ul-Fitr. They perform two rakats of Eid prayer on the day.
Congregational prayers are held in all rural and urban places. In Dhaka, the Eid congregations are held at the national Eidgah and all major mosques including the Baitul Mukarram. The biggest congregation of the country is held at Sholakia in Kishoreganj, where about half a million people join the Eid prayer.
After offering the salat, the Muslims exchange greetings with each other. They exchange salam and greetings by embracing one another irrespective of status or age. It is common for children to offer salam to parents and adult relatives while they are given 'Eidi' by the elders.
They also visit the graves of the relatives and pious Muslims. It is a religious obligation on the day to pay fitra to the poor at a fixed rate. Many people also avail themselves of this opportunity to distribute Aakat, an Islamic obligatory alms tax of 2.5 per cent of one's annual savings, to the needy. Jakat is often distributed in the form of food and new clothes.
The government declares holiday for three days on the occasion. People who live in towns but have their families or parents in villages go to their homes to meet relatives and celebrate the festival together. It's a common scenario in Bangladesh that that the homebound-people leaving the capital Dhaka with tremendous sufferings despite shortage of sufficient number of human vehicles and caution of heavy traffic jam for hours after hours in the highways. During this time, getting a bus or train ticket is almost like getting a gold medal.
On Eid and the following day, people usually visit their relatives and neighbours to share the joys of this festival. They have delicious food altogether and go out for roaming. Children are also usually taken to several amusement and wonder park for their recreation during the Eid vacation to get relief from their heavy academic pressure.
Different newspapers publish articles on the life and teachings of Hazrat Muhammad (Sm), the significance of Eid, and the ideals of Islam, while some also publish colourful Eid magazine which contains romantic poems, novels, short story and many others. The Radio and Television broadcast special programmes, which even continue till the 7th day of Eid. The programmes include Tv plays, Eid serials, newly released movies, magazine show, celebrity talk show, game show and comedy how:
In rural areas, Eid fairs are organised at many places. These fairs are basically gatherings that promote friendship among the rural people. On the other hand, city amusement park turns into fairs as people of all ages throng to these places to refresh them.
Thus the Eid-ul-Fitr brings the Muslim community of the whole world under a same celebration with much enthusiasm. Muslim people of all ages, all classes celebrate the Eid. The affluent Muslims extend their hands to the poor, embrace one another and rejoice with the same festivity. Eid-ul-Fitr, is the lone religious or social festival in the existing world, which come for the poor and rich with equal enjoyment.