Eid al-Fitr, also referred to as Ramadan Bayram in Türkiye, is one of the two most anticipated holidays among Muslims, together with Eid al-Adha. Marking the end of a month of fasting, Eid al-Fitr represents a continuation of feelings in terms of spirituality, togetherness, sharing and renewal.
Overall, it is a time of joy and celebration and an opportunity for Muslims around the world to reflect on faith and relationships, and cherish the times spent together. This three-daylong festive occasion brings together relatives and neighbors and is typically accompanied by the preparation of various traditional desserts that vary based on the region, country or culture.
And although particularly from the culinary aspect Eid festivities may be quite different for Muslims in the Middle East, South Asia, Türkiye or the Balkans, the common spirit of the holiday when looking globally includes exchanging gifts, buying new clothes, especially for the smallest members in families, and attendance of congregational prayers for males on the first day of Eid.
As a Bosnian native, let me discuss the unique customs specific to my country, while touching upon my observations regarding the celebrations in the country I’m residing in for long period now – Türkiye – and the country my husband hails from which is Pakistan.
In truth, I might say the basic Eid celebrations on the first day don’t differ much, since Bosnian culture and traditions have deep roots in Ottoman heritage. As a result, we share many similarities, starting with the sweets and desserts like baklava, tulumba, kadayıf, and the drinks such as Turkish komposto, which is known as kompot in Bosnia, as well as coffee that closely resembles Turkish coffee.
These treats are typically served during visits, and Bosnians are particularly fond of coffee, with many people finding it difficult to adjust to the excessive amount of coffee served during Eid after a month of fasting during Ramadan.
Every visit among the Muslim community members in Bosnia-Herzegovina during Eid typically begins with a warm cup of coffee and a piece of walnut baklava.
In Bosnia, it’s a tradition for children to collect money on the morning of Eid by kissing or shaking the hands of the elderly, or visiting their grandparents. They eagerly look forward to receiving their “bajram banka” or Eid banknote, then they roam around their relatives, comparing the amount they received.
The third point, and perhaps the most significant personal memory for me, which I believe is shared by other families as well, is the anticipation of the return of male family members after the morning prayer at the mosque. The sweets sold in front of local mosques after the prayer usually take center stage in table decorations.
The second day of Bayram is also marked as Martyrs’ Day in Bosnia. It is a day of remembrance for all those who gave their lives defending their family, honor, homeland and religion. On Martyrs’ Day, cemeteries are visited, prayers are recited in their name, and their sacrifice is remembered.
When I first experienced Eid al-Fitr in Türkiye, particularly in Istanbul, I was surprised to find the streets of Eminönü deserted and only a few shops open on the first day of the holiday. With years passing, I am used to the silence of Istanbul, as I’ve seen many of my university friends heading to southern or central provinces for Eid, and I have grown accustomed to this as one of the faces of the city during Eid.
During subsequent Eids, I explored other districts of Istanbul, such as Üsküdar, which usually becomes very crowded on the second and third day as people from other areas of the city come to spend the holiday by the beautiful shore with a view of the Maiden Tower.
In terms of Eid sweets, it is a tradition in Türkiye to offer guests old-style sugar candies, and basically for this reason the holiday is often called “Şeker Bayramı” (Feast of Sweets) as well. The spirit of the holiday is usually felt in all streets, and small markets, as everyone congratulates one another’s bayram when they greet each other.
Writing about a culture I did not spend a much longer period with is a bit different, but, “the night of the moon,” or Chand Raat, is usually a celebration that precedes the Eid festivities. It is a time of celebration when families and friends gather in open areas at the end of the last day of Ramadan to spot the new moon, which signals the arrival of the Islamic month of Shawwal and the day of Eid.
People usually have lit lights, decorate homes and begin preparing meals for Eid including famed samosas and biryani. The girls and women gather in homes for henna coloring traditions, showcasing clothes and materials they would wear for the upcoming Eid.
During Eid, similarly, as in other countries, the prevalent tradition of children receiving Eid gifts or Eid money, is referred to by a unique term as “Eidi.” The traditional sweet “semiya” prepared with nuts, raisins, milk and cardamom powder is also an indispensable part of the Eid-al-Fitr tables throughout most parts of Pakistan.
No matter the country, though children often receive most of the attention, gifts are freely distributed among friends and relatives during Eid. For the holiday, it is also customary to wear a fresh new outfit and greet all acquaintances but it is also the time when we pay respect to deceased members of the family and visit their graves.
Source: Daily Sabah