A Typical Pakistani Eid

The Muslim calendar is based on the lunar system. Like the Gregorian calendar, the Islamic calendar has twelve months. During the ninth month, Ramadan, Muslims fast for thirty days from dawn to dusk. In Urdu the word for fasting is roza. People eat breakfast or sehri before dawn. At dusk people open their fast or iftar with a date, some juice, and a few appetizers like somosas (a triangular shaped puff- pastry filled with potatoes or meat and fried) or dehi bara (a soft fried pastry in spicy yogurt). During the fast people are prohibited from drinking even a single drop of water. After roughly 30 days, depending on when the new moon is sighted, Muslims begin the two day festival of Eid ul-Fitr.

The night the new moon is sighted is known as Chand Raat. On this night the males from the family take the female members out to shop. Shops stay open till two or three in the morning. Stalls are opened to sell colorful glass bangles and sparkling sandals. Women have henna applied on their hands by mehndiwallis, women who are trained in the art of henna application. People are so excited too about Eid; they often don't mind staying up late to prepare for it.

On the morning of the first day of Eid, the family gathers to have breakfast of sainwian, a sweet dish made out of a spaghetti-like substance with milk and sugar. After breakfast, the males in the family go to a Mosque or park to say Eid prayers. It's obligatory for men to attend the prayers, but not for the women.

After the prayers, which last roughly an hour, the entire family gets ready to receive guests or visit their close family and friends. Everyone wears new clothes and accessories. Before arriving at each house the family buys a cake from the local bakeries and sweet shops. Once at the house the guests are served appetizers and Coke followed by various sweets and chai.

At some point during the visit the guests will surreptitiously slip Eidi, money given to children on Eid. The money will range anywhere from Rs.100 to Rs.1000 (roughly $1.30 to $13.00), although it can be considerably higher or less depending upon a family's economic status. Eidi is also given to the servants of each house, including the maid, cook, driver, house cleaner, nanny, and gardener.

Officially, the process of receiving guests and visiting people continues on the next day, but some guests will continue to visit the next few days too.

Eid ul-Fitr is much like the Christian holiday of Christmas; it's a time for families to stop the rat race and come together to celebrate a religious holiday.