Eid al-Fitr, the “festival of breaking the fast,” is celebrated annually by Muslims around the world. It immediately follows Ramadan, a month-long period in which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, and is the beginning of Shawwal. In 2017, Eid al-Fitr falls on Sunday, June 25th, though technically begins when the moon becomes visible the evening prior. Muslims celebrate the holiday in a variety of ways from culture to culture, including with food, prayer, family, and gift-giving. “Eid Mubarak” is a traditional greeting used at this time. Los Angeles is home to numerous cultures and creeds, so there is no one way to celebrate. There are, however, some commonalities.
Zakat-al-Fitr means giving excess food to those who may need it. According to Islamic Relief USA, this donation must be given before the Eid al-Fitr prayer and can be made either in the form of actual food or money that can be used to buy food. It amounts to about $10 per family member.
After bathing and eating a sweet breakfast, typically of dates, Eid al-Fitr begins with a prayer in the early hours of the morning and may be done at a mosque or an open-air space, such as a park. In previous years, the Islamic Center of Southern California has hosted prayer services at the L.A. Convention Center.
It is customary to cook or enjoy lavish meals to celebrate the end of day-long fasting. Halal means that the meat has been prepared in a way that is permissible under Islamic law. However, no specific dish represents halal food, as Muslims live in numerous cultures all over the world. Los Angeles has a diverse array of halal food, from Somalia, India, Pakistan and elsewhere.
New clothes and henna
It is common for some Muslim women to sport beautiful Mehndi tattoos on their hands and feet during Eid al-Fitr. The designs are drawn onto the skin using a paste made from the leaves of the henna plant, and they are temporary and typically fade away after one to three weeks. It is also common for Muslims to don new clothes for Eid al-Fitr, though the style of clothes varies from custom to custom.