Muslims in Nepal are celebrating Eid ul-Fitra today, while the great festival of Islam was celebrated in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and several other Muslim nations on Friday.
Muslims follow a lunar calendar and a moon-sighting methodology that can lead to different countries declaring the start of Ramadan a day or two apart.
Religious authorities can determine it on their sightings of the moon. Islami Sangh Nepal, has announced that Eid ul-Fitr will be celebrated across the country today, depending on the moon-sighting, its president Nazrul Hussain informed Republica.
Eid ul-Fitr, which is also known as the festival of breaking of the fast, is being observed with great joy by Nepali Muslims. The festival celebrates the conclusion of a month-long dawn-to-dusk fasting during the month of Ramadan and by enjoying various delicacies with relatives and friends. It is considered as a festival that rejuvenates a sense of togetherness among the community members.
“We forget all our enmity and once again become friend, putting the past aside. We hug, and wish each other ‘Eid Mubarak,” said Paras Hussein, a civil society leader from Rautahat.
Muslims believe that the month-long fast from dawn to dusk would ascend them to heaven by purging them of their sins. Some Muslims do not even watch television or listen to music after their daily fast.
It is also believed by the community members that the festival also binds one spiritually to the deceased members of their family. After offering first prayers to Allah to mark the end of the fasting, they pay homage to their deceased nears and dears one by visiting their graves.
During the month-long period, Muslims remain cut off from their friends and relatives and devote themselves solely in praying to Allah. “That is one of the reasons why the feast of breaking the fast brings a great sense of togetherness among us,” Samim Akhtar, another Muslim, said told Republica. In Kathmandu, thousands of Muslims are expected to assemble at Nepali Jame Masjid for the Eid prayers and exchange greetings today.
The occasion is also used to express generosity by helping needy people. Kawtar RK, a Moroccan Muslim woman living in the United Kingdom, sought help from her friend Saurav Satyal in Nepal to pass on her generous support to a Muslim family in Nepal.
“Please provide 30 pound to any quake affected poor Nepali Muslim family that cannot afford to celebrate of Eid ul-Fitr on Saturday,” RK had emailed Satyal, to which the later obliged duly.
Amid this celebration, some have concerns about enjoying their religious freedom as well. “Muslim people have been happier to celebrate Eid ul-Fitr after the country ushered in secularism,” Hussein said adding that presently they feel having religious freedom.
He however doubts that this freedom might not last longer. “The recent debates on secularism have added apprehension in our community that attempts may be made to reinstate the country as Hindu state,” he said.