Eid Mubarak to all who celebrates it! I hope everyone is well and safe.
You might wonder what Eid Mubarak means. The term itself means ‘Blessed Festival’. It is a greeting to welcome Eid, the holy celebration which signifies the end of Ramadhan. After a month of fasting from dawn till dusk and abstaining from evil thoughts, words and actions, Muslims would look forward to celebrating Eid.
Eid, also known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri in Malay, is usually determined by the observation of the new moon by religious authorities on the 29th day of fasting. This is why the date changes every year and the precise timings vary from country to country. If the new moon is visible, then the following day will be Eid. Otherwise, it will be celebrated the day after that.
It is celebrated, uniquely, by Muslims all around the world with different sets of traditions but ultimately with shared purpose and essence. The usual tradition of Eid starts with a special morning prayer at the mosque, where the Takbeer, a special praise for god, will be called. After that, close families and relatives will visit each other to seek forgiveness and to rekindle relationships and friendships. The idea is that after a month of cleansing our soul, refraining from committing bad deeds and suspending our indulgence in worldly comforts, Eid serve as a fresh new start for us so we could turn over a new leaf. So when you forgive others and ask forgiveness from others, you now have a clean slate.
This seems to be a tradition among South East Asian countries – I have learned that other countries may not view Eid the same way as we do. I have also learned that in some countries, Eid is celebrated for 3 days only but where I’m from, we celebrated it for one whole month. It is often celebrated heavily for the first two weeks but the festivities would gradually die down after that. I find it remarkable that everyone celebrates Eid differently in different parts of the world. Even families celebrate it differently with their own traditions as well.
In Brunei, homes will be heavily decorated and lights are hung. It’s almost like Christmas to us, everything looking festive, bright and colourful. Preparation for the celebration of Eid would commence weeks before it even started. Some people would even start to prepare for the celebration during the first week of Ramadan. There is a lot when it comes to preparing for Eid. It involves buying home decors, lavish silverware or china, going to tailor shops to get custom-made baju kurung or cara melayu (traditional wear for women and men respectively), buying biscuits and cakes to serve for the guests and much more! The preparation is very extensive and I could easily make a list of more than 50 things that people prepare for this celebration.
A typical first day of Eid would start with waking up to the hustle and bustle of family members in preparation for the day. Radios would blast classic Malay Eid songs. While the men of the house go to the morning prayer at the mosque, the women stay at home to prepare foods and ‘prepare’ the house for guests, who are usually close relatives and sometimes distant ones as well. Everyone, on the first day of Eid, looks very fashionable, especially women. It almost looks like the whole country is involved in a fashion show. Some families would wear matching outfits or matching colours as well so it will look something like the picture below:
The ambience and mood of Eid, at least for a Bruneian like me, is a cocktail of unique, bittersweet and heart-warming feeling. As everyone is gathered, we would enjoy the foods prepared and socialise. Everyone would inevitably reminisce on our actions on the previous years (go down the memory lane, as people usually say) and remember the people who are no longer with us, and we just truly enjoy being in the present and the presence of other people. The celebration of Eid really just focuses on the feeling of togetherness.
There is something special about the foods as well that are served and eaten during Eid but I will save it for the next blog post because the foods deserve an entire special blog post just about them. So until then, I wish everyone a good day.