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Eid-ul-Fitr: All you need to know about the festivity

There are two important celebrations in the Islamic calendar, Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha with both festivities falling on important dates.

Eid-ul-Fitr takes place on the first day of Shawwal, following the conclusion of the Holy month of Ramadan, while Eid-ul-Adha celebrates the sacrifice Ibrahim (Abraham) was willing to make to Allah (SWT).

Eid-ul-Fitr is the festival of breaking the fast and marks the end of the fasting month of the holy month of Ramadhan. It is celebrate for three days, and on the morning of the first day, Muslims gather for prayer.

The dates of the festivity mostly depend on the combination of astronomical calculations and the sighting of the new moon.

Technically, that means that across the world, Eid-ul-Fitr starts at different times and different days, depending on location.

HOLY MONTH

To make it more uniform, most Muslims celebrate Eid when the new moon appears over Mecca instead of their own locations.

Here in Kenya Eid-ul-Fitr will begin on the evening of Wednesday, June 5, 2019 and end on the evening of Thursday, June 6, 2019.

However, dates may vary, and any changes will be communicated by the Chief Kadhi.

Eid-ul-Fitr marks the end of Ramadhan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, and is celebrated during the first three days of Shawwal, the 10th month of the Islamic calendar.

But depending on how it falls on the calendar, the parties and festivities could last much longer. For example, if the three days fall mid-week, the celebration will go into the weekend.

ISLAMIC CALENDAR

The Islamic calendar is based on lunar cycles, as opposed to the Gregorian calendar, which is based on the solar cycle. New month’s start and end with each new moon.

The average new moon appears every 29.53 days, so the lunar months are a bit shorter compared to the Gregorian months, which usually last 30 or 31 days. Thus, every year, Ramadhan is held about 10 days earlier than it was the previous year —at least, that is, in relation to the Gregorian calendar.

During the Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations Muslims wake up to cleanse their bodies in a ritual called ghusl. They then don something new or grab their finest threads and decorate their hands with elaborate henna patterns. Some people wear traditional dress, while others opt for contemporary clothing.

After getting dressed and ready for the day, Muslims gather in mosques or outdoor locations for prayers and listen to a khutba (sermon) and give zakat al-fitr (charity in the form of food).

Afterward, they may visit the graves of loved ones to pray and clean the gravesites. Gifts are also exchanged during this time.