We asked Muslims in our IELTS community and around the world what Eid meant to them. Keep on reading to find out what they had to say. Eid Mubarak from all of us at IELTS!
Ozlem Adakale, Melbourne, Australia
Growing up, Eid meant only one thing to me – my grandmother. The glow on her face to see all her children and grandchildren, under one roof, was priceless. We would cook a big breakfast and eat it together. The kids would be happier than ever in their nice new clothes, looking forward to the adults giving them some money and lollies.
My grandmother passed away a few years back and it has not been the same without her. Eid traditions will continue, but there will always be a part of me that’s missing her, especially at this time of the year.
Eid means family to me, giving and forgiving. Eid Mubarak to all who celebrate!
Lynn Zulkarim, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
When I was younger, Hari Raya Aidilfitri (Raya¹) meant family, balik kampung², visiting relatives, duit Raya³, lots of food and Raya cookies.
However, as I get older, I find myself getting more excited about Ramadan than Raya. Ramadan comes with great blessings as this is when Muslims engage in various acts of worship such as reading the Qur’an, praying and giving to charity. It is also a time for reflection and strengthening one’s faith. Raya in the month of Shawwal comes right after Ramadan and it is compulsory to celebrate the day of “victory” after fasting for a month.
In Malaysia, Raya celebrations are a big deal where people take long breaks and make their way to their hometowns. For the past few years, I have celebrated Raya with my mother, brothers and their families in my home, right here in Kuala Lumpur. We would put on our best outfits, make our way to the mosque for Rayaprayers, and return home for a little feast. Our must-have dishes are ketupat⁴, lodeh⁵, rendang⁶, sambal udang⁷and serunding⁸.
Although we get together every now and then, being together on Raya in our nice, new clothes means a photo session is a must. Other families may have colour-coordinated outfits and elaborate photo shoots but my family prefers getting candid.
For me, as long as I have my family with me, I can spend my Raya anywhere. Home is where the heart is.
Rizwan Omar, Sydney, Australia
Eid essentially marks the end of the holiest of months in Islam; Ramadan.
One fasts from sunrise to sunset during the month of Ramadan. Ideally, the fast involves refraining from food but principally, it involves refraining from mundane things associated with the world around us. It certainly serves the purpose of being reminded of the abundant blessings most of us experience blindly daily.
Eid is also a reminder that the world is filled with imperfections and struggle. However, in philosophical terms, there is an even far greater and complex world that resides in the soul (psyche) of man/woman, equally imperfect and prone to struggle.
Eid to me is a symbol. It represents restraint, rationalism, self-awareness and all the other important dimensions which are foundational to finding ‘balance’.
Yani Asari-Vojka, New York, USA
I moved to New York in August of 2008 from Kuala Lumpur and have lived here ever since. I work with Tourism Malaysia and am fortunate to still feel very connected to home through other Malaysians who have settled here, events we organise and delicious Malaysian food.
As I grow older, Ramadan means so much more to me than Raya. The first few days are festive, especially the first day, but it’s also bittersweet, bidding farewell to Ramadan and acknowledging spiritual achievements throughout the holy month. Plus, I’m too old to get duit Raya³ and there aren’t enough open houses⁹ here in New York!
I’ve returned home (Malaysia) for Ramadan and Raya only once since living overseas, but I believe it’s the best time to be back. This year we’re looking forward to heading home to spend a couple weeks of Raya with family and friends!
Anita Yahya Sanger, Auckland, New Zealand
Eid to me is about family bonding! We get together on this special day after our morning prayers at the mosque. The younger ones will take turns to seek forgiveness from their parents and grandparents before they enjoy the festivities.
Back home in Malaysia, 3 generations of my family that include 8 children, their respective spouses and 40 something grandchildren gather in my grandparents’ house. We don new, traditional clothes, receive money from the older family members and enjoy a big feast of traditional dishes (lemang¹⁰, ketupat⁴, rendang⁶, lontong¹¹) that are only served on Eid with visiting family and friends.
I don’t get to celebrate Eid with my family in Malaysia every year so when we celebrate it in Auckland, we organise a potluck with our friends. Since it is not a public holiday in New Zealand, we usually take the day off or celebrate on the weekend after Eid. Fun and memorable, our gathering with friends make up for the absence of our families.
Shakir Ameer, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
My Raya is about getting together with family and friends. My celebration is very simple and it starts with morning prayers at the nearby mosque with family. Prayers are followed by a big breakfast with string hoppers¹² (Idiyappam), mutton, liver and beef curries.
My mum usually hosts lunch for her friends and neighbours. After lunch, there will be a huge family gathering in my uncle’s house. There, we catch up with family and eat. After dinner, my younger cousins and I leave to spend time with our friends.
Asmae Sekkat, Casablanca, Morocco
In Morocco, Ramadan is more significant to Eid as the holy month brings everyone together through prayers, feasts and fun activities. Since Ramadan month falls during the long days of summer, fasting starts at 3:15 am until 7:40 pm.
Iftar¹³ is a simple affair as we break our fast with something light – dates, coffee, juices and some bread. The main meal will be later at 2:00 am, when we have bigger servings to sustain us throughout the day.
It is fantastic time to be out and about as the streets are filled with people shopping from noon till 2:00 am. The crowd starts building up from 10:30 pm, right after prayers, and starts to shut down before 2:30 am.
Ramadan and Eid is special to me as I feel a sense of peace and achievement. It gives me a glimpse of who I can be and what I can do to be a better person.
Farah Shazmin, Wellington, New Zealand
I am currently living in New Zealand. Since moving here, I have not celebrated Raya with my family for three years.
Raya to me is all about spending time with family, friends and enjoying amazing food! Raya with my family would start with prayers in the mosque. After prayers, we get dressed in our festive finery and would seek forgiveness from our elders.
The young ones will take turns to receive duit Raya³ before we all head to my Aunty’s house for mouth-watering Raya delicacies.
After our feast, we visit all our extended family members and friends who live nearby.
Anto Prasetyo, Jakarta, Indonesia
For us, Hari Raya, or Lebaran as we commonly call it, is really full of family activities. We get two days of public holidays for Lebaran. This year, we are spending the 1st day of Raya with my parents because we celebrated Raya at my in-laws’ place last year.
As usual, at 7:00 am, we all go for prayers at a nearby mosque. After prayers, we’ll head back to my parents’ house to do sungkem. It is a Javanese tradition, where one kneels in front of their parents to ask for forgiveness for all the wrongs they’ve done. In return, parents will usually give them some parental advice before saying a quick prayer.
After that, my siblings and I will wish each other Selamat Lebaran (Eid Mubarak) and ask each other for forgiveness. Traditionally, siblings who are already working or married would give duit Raya³ to those who aren’t yet. So my sister, being the youngest with 3 older brothers, usually ends up with a big grin.
Next, it’s breakfast time. The first breakfast in a month that we have in daylight. It’s usually a big one with a few signature dishes such as ketupat⁴ and opor ayam (chicken in coconut milk curry).
At around 10:00 am, we would start visiting our relatives. It is tradition that the eldest in the family would host their younger siblings and cousins. Since my Dad is the youngest of four and my Mom is the eleventh child out of twelve, we’re always the ones visiting everyone.
There are usually four stops in a day and a meal at every stop. It’s no surprise, we usually end up being stuffed with food after that.
In the evening, we would make our way to my in-laws’ house and go through a very similar routine the next day, without the morning Raya prayers.
Selamat Lebaran to everyone.
¹ Hari Raya Aidilfitri (Raya) is another term form Eid ul-Fitr in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.
² Balik kampung (“return to village”) is a Malay term for massive exodus during festive seasons in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.
³ Duit Raya is a unique adaptation of the Chinese “red envelope” custom in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei. During Eid ul-Fitr, Muslims hand out money in envelopes to family and friends. It also symbolises the Islamic obligatory duty of zakat (a form of alms-giving treated in Islam as a religious obligation or tax).
⁴ Ketupat is a dumpling made from rice packed inside a diamond-shaped container of woven palm leaf pouch and boiled.
⁵ Lodeh is a vegetable curry made with coconut milk and spices. It is most often associated with Javanese cuisine.
⁶ Rendang is a beef/chicken dish that is slow cooked with coconut milk and a paste of mixed ground spices, including ginger, galangal, turmeric leaves, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, chillies.
⁷ Sambal Udang is prawns cooked in a hot sauce that is made with a mixture of shallots, chilli, ginger, garlic, lime juice, shrimp paste and palm sugar.
⁸ Serunding is beef/chicken floss sautéed with coconut milk, onions, garlic, galangal, ginger, lemongrass toasted and pounded coconut, tamarind pulp, sugar and spiced with coriander seeds, fennel and chillies.
⁹ The open house is a practice that is common during popular festivals in Malaysia, namely Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Diwali, Chinese New Year, and Christmas. All well-wishers are received and everyone, regardless of background, race and religion, is invited to celebrate, mingle and feast at open houses that are normally held at the home of the host.
¹⁰ Lemang is glutinous rice with coconut milk and salt, cooked over an open fire, in a hollowed bamboo stick lined with banana leaves. It is popular in Southeast Asian countries, especially Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
¹¹ Lontong is a compressed rice cake, boiled and wrapped with banana leaf.
¹² String hoppers is a traditional Kannada, Tamil, Kerala, Kodava, Tulu and Sri Lankan food that is made with rice flour. The flour is pressed in a mould, to give it a noodle like form, and steamed.
¹³ Iftar is one of the religious observances of Ramadan and is often done as a community, with people gathering to break their fast together.