With Eid-al-Fitr just round the corner, there are many Muslims looking out for a place to relax and refresh after a month of prayer and fasting… I myself enjoy the Ramadan Eid festival in my country as I am surrounded by family and friends, and our gatherings tend to go on for nearly a month! However, for those of you who are looking for a getaway to dosomething different, a visit to one of these countries should be considered.
From all accounts, this is one of the places to be to celebrate Eid with a difference! To mark the end of the month of Ramadan, the municipal areas, buildings, shops, roads and houses are all decorated with lights and other festive adornments - a breathtaking sight for those of us who live in Non-Islamic countries. Further, the country celebrates Eid by going on holiday from three days to one week – so all the locals are on Eid holidays and thus the country itself is entrenched in the holiday atmosphere which is embedded with the spirit that is Eid-al-Fitr, one of giving and forgiveness,family and comradeship.
The Eid day celebrations can start off in the traditional manner of observing the fajr prayers followed by listening to the Eid Khutbah and participating in the Eid prayers in any of the mosques located in whichever Emirate you are visiting. Then join in on the traditional giving of Zakat and meeting and greeting of the people by wishing them Eid Mubarak! In the UAE, as is common in many other Islamic nations, the females will decorate their hands using Henna which is something that can be practiced by visitors as well.
Although the country is on public holiday for the week following the sighting of the new moon that leads to the day of Eid, there is still plenty to do…
If shopping is a priority then there are an abundance of malls in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi which offer special Ramadan and Eid discounts.In fact the Eid holiday is so well celebrated in Dubai that the malls are usually extremely crowded, cinemas tickets are booked in advance, parks and open areas are packed with families enjoying some together-time, and restaurants enjoy long queues of patrons awaiting a taste of their halal food. In addition, there are firework displays, pageants and traditional dance performances in many public areas across Dubai.
Holiday with a Difference
However, if you are looking for something with a bit of difference and most likely less crowded, then take the opportunity to drive to the less talked about Emirate states which are all in close proximity to each other. An advantage will be that the roads will be clear of the legendary heavy traffic because of locals spending time with their families, and the government declared public and private sector Eidholidays. So take this opportunity to go to Al Ain and visit its zoo featuring many exotic animals from around the globe, andif you are visiting with kids then they will also love the waterpark. Alternately you can also drive up to the mountains in Al Ain and be surrounded by nature. VisitFujairah or Ras al Khaimah and spend a couple of days relaxing in their luxury resorts. Also take the opportunity to pack a picnic lunch and simply hang out at the many parks. There are also desert safaris that can be enjoyed!
Another destination to consider to spend the end of Ramadan is Indonesia. Eid-al-Fitr known popularly as Lebaran or Hari Raya Idul Fitri in Indonesia is a major national holiday that last two weeks. Indonesians, irrespective of their religion, take time off work and simply holiday. Indonesian Muslims traditionally take this opportunity to visit their hometowns and spend time with family and friends. An interesting aspect of the Eid holiday in Indonesia is that the Eid celebrations are spread across many weeks and is considered the season for happiness and forgiveness.
The Indonesian Muslims start their celebrations of the dawn of Idul Fitri on the previous night. People get-together in the mosques and play drums and sing chants. In the more rural areas of the country people hang oil lamps and lanterns outside of their homes to signify that they are awaiting the arrival of Lebaran. In the towns and cities of the country, the Muslims gather in the streets and chant Takbir with friends and family and even have fireworks displays to celebrate the upcoming Eid holiday. There are also musical performances which portray Islamic themes that blend with Quranic verses associated with Ramadan and Eid– known as Qasida, which are broadcast on national television.
On Eid day, you can participate in the traditional Eid prayers in any of the mosques located throughout the country. If you have opted to celebrate Eid-al-Fitr in Jakarta, then do try to participate in the Eid prayers conducted at the Istiqlal Mosque which is the largest mosque in Southeast Asia.
Also note that the traditional Eid greeting in Indonesia is Selamat Idul Fitri which means Happy Eid.
Food and Feasting
Hari Raya Idul Fitri is well known for its spectacular spread of food. Traditionally, locals prepare many types of food to offer to family and friends who visit them during the RamzanEidfestival. Some of the most common food offering include ketupat - a type of rice dumpling that can be flavored with many different seasonings and fillings, rending - a type of caramelized beef curry, and rice cakes. There are also many kind of cookies and sweets on offer. If you have Muslim friends or family in Indonesia; then the Eidfestival is indeed the best time for a visit!
Being a country where the majority of the population is Muslims, halal food and Muslim-friendly facilities are commonly available and easy to obtain.
Amidst all the feasting, you can also fulfill all your shopping requirements. The end of Ramazan marks the beginning of the Eid festival and is characterized by seasonal discounts and special offers at all the malls. As per tradition, locals shop for new clothes in order to celebrate the Eidholiday and all retailers offer special discounts to encourage people to buy more. An interesting aspect in the Indonesian peoples’ celebration of Eid-al-Fitr is that the Hari Raya Idul Fitri is not about giving of Eid gifts to others, but about keeping for yourself the purchases made just before the sighting of theEid moon.
So, try to go to Indonesia just a few days prior to the Eid holidays and shop to your heart’s content! If shopping is your priority, then I would recommend visiting Jakarta, which for me is a shopper’s paradise with its plethora of malls and extensive choice of products.
There is also a wide variety of sightseeing opportunities throughout Indonesia. From museums and art galleries to temples and caves, and even volcanoes. Therefore, once you have had enough of all the food, festivities and shopping; most likely in Indonesia’s most popular destinations - Jakarta or Bali, take a few days to look around the country. A quick internet search will give you ample ideas of close-by sights depending on which part of Indonesia you have chosen to visit!
Yet another destination to be considered to celebrate Eid-al-Fitr is Turkey. Eid is a nationally celebrated festival which last three days traditionally, although for the Ramzan Eid 2016 the holiday extends to nine days including the weekend! The Turkish call this Ramadan festival as Bayram, and practice some very purely Turkish traditions as part of its celebrations. The ideal city to celebrate this Eid holiday in Turkey would be Istanbul; with its combination of old and new, extensive sight-seeing and tourist activities as well as the large number of mosques spread across the city.
Eid Day Celebrations
The Turkish traditionally start Eid day with a big breakfast to mark the end of Ramadan following the traditional Eid prayers. They dress in new clothes called bayramlık, which is specially bought for the occasion of Eid and then visit their elders and kiss their hands as a mark of respect. They also visit close and extended family, neighbors and friends to impart goodwill and partake of all the lovely sweets on offer. The Turkish also use this day to remember and greet their departed loved ones and thus visit cemeteries with family.
The traditional Happy Eid greeting used in Turkey to address one another is Bayraminizmübarekolsunor Bayraminizkutluolsun which translates to "May your Bayram be blessed”. They also use MutluBayramlar which means "Happy Bayram".
If you are in Istanbul just before Eid day, then it would be an opportunity to experience the Eid prayers at the famed Blue Mosque, which is a sight to behold during this
Another interesting aspect of Eid celebrations in Turkey is the Turkish shadow plays, such as Karagöz and Hacivat. These are popular during the Ramadan feast, and children can watch these plays at fairs free of charge.
There will be no shortage of food during the Eid festival. The Turkish are known for indulging in an abundance of food and drink during the day to celebrate the end of Ramzan. There are so many Turkish sweets and desserts on offer that it is indeed a delight! So, if you are visiting family or friends then be sure that you will get a taste of the traditional sweet dishes of Lokma and Turkish sweet churros, Turkish bread pudding, Katmer, Baklava and Pumpkin dessert. If not, then these dishes will be the popular offerings in menues of most restaurants during the season of Eid. This is also the reason that theEid holiday is often referred to as SekerBayrami to mean the "Holiday of the Sweets".
Also try out the many halal restaurants that will offer Muslim travelers a delicious fare of traditional Turkish foods.
Sightseeing and Holidaying
Visitors need to be aware that museums, archeological sites and other tourist attractions are closed for the first full day of the Eid holiday, but are usually open thereafter. In celebration of Eid, these places offer discounted and special rates for admissions tickets. Also expect crowds both locals and foreigners as the end of Ramadan signifies holiday time for the country.
It is also a more recent tradition for the locals to travel to Turkish resorts during the Eid Holidays with family and friends, so if you are planning such a visit, expect en route traffic as well as holiday-goers in high spirits of revelry and enjoyment! You may also experience a dearth of public transport so make sure you are ready to walk around the sites or have made private transport arrangements.
Sakina has over 10 years of experience in the field of corporate communications; having worked for a leading Annual Report Production House dealing with top corporates of Sri Lanka and overseas, and later as the Group Communications Specialist for a Sri Lankan conglomerate for their overseas plantations business. She is well-versed in the production process of annual reports, sustainability reports, corporate videos and other corporate communication media. She also has experience in Social Media Marketing and works to increase and improve social media presence of corporates and small niche market businesses. Today, she works as a freelance writer and undertakes consultations on corporate communications and social media related projects. She enjoys writing for blogs on topics of interest.