To the faithful Eidul-Fitr (Festival of Breaking Fast) amounts to anxiously awaited passing out ceremony after rigorous hard work in the seminary of Ramadhan. Having successfully completed the month long strict and scrupulous training, the believers deserve to celebrate. Eidul-Fitr provides the occasion to thank Allah for having given them the chance to observe the blessed month - by efficiently refraining from food and drink and abstaining from otherwise legitimate intimacy (during the fasting time); by having tamed the self to the service of Allah; by having monitored every action and utterance and not having spoken anything other than good; by having offered extra prayers throughout the month; by having cared for the poor and the needy; by having strengthened the ties of kinship with the near and the dear; by having gained synergy between the mind, the body and the soul; by having triumphed with buoyancy and a clean conscience; by being invigorated with sense of integrity and courage to carry forward with a positive attitude aspiring for higher levels of attainment and ultimate salvation. Upon completing the rigorous training throughout the blessed month, the faithful do not indulge in permissive deeds or lax celebrations. Instead, early in the morning of Eid, on the first day of Shawwaal (the month following Ramadhan), they collectively turn to Allah, to offer prayers of gratitude to the Almighty. Dressed in the best available costumes, men, women and children, without any exception, head to the special Eid prayer congregations chanting the mesmerizing Takbir of the day of Eid: “Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar; la illaha illaAllah;wa Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar; wa lillahilhamd” i.e. “Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest; there is no deity but (the one and only) Allah; Allah is Greatest, Allah is Greatest; and to Him goes all praise”. After the Eid prayers, greeting and pleasantries are exchanged. People embrace each other. This is the time to forgive and forget the grudges and bitterness of the past. All enmities and bitter feelings are let gone. From there people proceed to visit the elders and the loved ones and this continues for three days. Bonds of kinship are strengthened; neighbours exchange sweets and delicacies. No intermediaries are sought to reconcile in the atmosphere of spontaneity of goodwill brought by Eid. This is the occasion when the ears keep hearing, "Kullum 'Aamin Wa-Antum BiKhair" (may this occasion return every year with your welfare); " 'Asaakum min 'Awadihi" (May you live till the next return of this festival); "'Eid Mubark" (blessed be the Eid for you).

The importance of this great day of celebration and modest festivity is underlined in the tradition of Muhammad, the final Messenger of Allah (praise and peace be upon him). For example Bukhari and Muslim narrate, through Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri: 1. “ The Messenger of Allah (praise and peace be upon him) used to go out on the day of Al-Adha and on the day of Al-Fitr and offer Prayers. After having concluded the prayers, he would stand up and face the people while they remained seated. If he intended to send a mission on

an assignment, he would make a mention of that. If he intended anything else, he would command accordingly. On the occasion of Eid, he used to urge upon the congregation: Be benevolent, give charity, give out alms. The majority of those who used to come forth with charity, were women. After that, he would go his way.” 2. “ I heard the Messenger of Allah (praise and peace be upon him) saying: Observing of fast on two days of Eidul-Fitr and Eidul Adhha is not lawful.”

Eid in Oman:
Although there are similarities between all Muslim cultures world over, in the form of festivity, cheerfulness, paying of Zakat al Fitr, wearing of the best affordable dresses and preparing the best possible cuisine, Eid in Sultanate of Oman has its own colours and aroma. Towards the final days of the month of Ramadhan, all major towns witness fervour around the "Habtah" markets, wherein people make purchases of their requirements for their celebration - from clothes to livestock and gifts to perfumes and Halwa to Bukhoor. The atmosphere of celebration becomes euphoric when the new moon of the month of Shawwal is sighted. It is the time to bid farewell to the blessed month of Ramadhan and to get ready for the great day of celebration. During the three days of Eid people relish special Eid delicacies like “Shawa”, “Mashaakeek”, “Mafoor”, “Harees” and “Thareed”. Elders distribute monetary gifts called “Ayood” to the juniors and especially to the children. The social and collective aspect of the Omani life reverberates most during the Eid. The hustle and bustle of family visits and social gatherings is everywhere in the air. Collectively people organise chaste traditional dances and other forms of folklore, which vary in their format from region to region. The most popular among these are “Razha”, “Haboot”, “’Aazi”, “Meedan” and “Raboobah”. The most outstanding among the celebrations is the much awaited occasion of catching a glance the benevolent Sultan participating with his faithful subjects in offering the congregational Eid Prayers in open. A curiously watched event is a wonderful occasion for all and an astounding gesture by his Majesty by being amongst the common folk. Certainly that is one of the inspiring occasions of life in Oman - when the ruler of Oman gives a practical lesson of simplicity in the simplest form.

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