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Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Azha are the two major religious festivities celebrated throughout the country among its Muslim populace. Thankfulness is one of the four qualities of a Muslim, others being truthfulness, modesty and good behavior. Eid ul Fitr is the day of rejoicing and thanksgiving to Allah for giving the strength to the believers to fast for 29-30 days during the holy month of Ramadan. The day is celebrated at the end of the Ramadan on the first of Shawal (the 10th month of Islamic calendar). In the evening of 29th Ramadan, all men and women alike flock on the rooftops to witness the new moon. No sooner it is sited, euphoria sets in and everyone rushes to market places to make the last day shopping. Girls flock the stalls to get their hands beautiful decorated with “henna”. On Eid day, women folk prepare delicious sweet dishes to celebrate the beginning of the day. Before going for the exclusive morning prayers, each head of the family is to give “fitrana” (alms) equal to 2 1/2 kilo of wheat in respect of each member of his family to the poor and needy so that they could also share the joy and happiness of the day. After the prayers children gather around the head of the family to receive “Eidi” – a sum of money as per the status and financial position of the head – a ritual in which everyone shares. A lot of fairs are organized for children while the elders call on to the relatives. More than men, women and children (especially girls) enjoy the festivities of the day by wearing colorful specially made-for-the-occasion clothes.
Eid ul Azha is celebrated on 10th day of the Zil Hajj (the 12th Islamic month). This day is celebrated in the memory of the sacrifice made by the prophet Abrahim (Abraham) wherein he offered the life of his son Prophet Ismail to fulfill the decree of the Allah. On this day, all people who can afford sacrifice a sheep or a goat in the name of Allah as was done by Prophet Abrahim. Here too the poor are not forgotten. The meat of the sacrificed goat/sheep/lamb is divided into three parts; one for distribution among the poor, second for the relatives and third for self and own family.
In addition to the two Eids, the 12th of Rabi-al-Awwal (3rd month of Islamic calendar) is celebrated as the birthday of the prophet Muhammad (May peace be upon Him) with religious zeal and fervor. The roads, shops and other buildings are skillfully decorated with buntings and lights to express love and devotion to the Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon Him). Special conferences are held to project the peacefulness of the religion of Islam and the way the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) desired it to be followed. How sad it is that a faction of Muslim hardliners have given a new and ugly dimension to this peaceful religion by terrorizing the world. This certainly isn’t the Islam Allah and His Prophet wanted. Islam continues to be a religion of peaceful co-existence despite what some radicals are trying to portray it otherwise.