As the iftar, the evening meal to break the fast is completed, the streets are packed full of worshippers with their gazes turned towards the sky. Kids and adults alike, search for the sighting of the new moon on the last day of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. As soon as the moon is sighted, a wave of euphoria sweeps the people on the street as everyone is in anticipation of the next morning. The excitement and euphoria are all for the event that is to follow, Eid-ul-Fitr.
The day of Eid-ul-Fitr is prepared well in advance by the families. A lot of sweets are made by hand and a huge amount of clothes, accessories, and gifts are bought in anticipation of the day. Worshippers around the globe perform the special Eid-ul-Fitr prayer right at the crack of dawn, before starting their day of celebration.
History & Significance
The starting of the celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr was commenced by Prophet Muhammad, the last prophet of Islam after he migrated to Medina, a city in Saudi Arabia. The Eid-ul-Fitr history thus dates back fourteen hundred years and it is one of the two festive days in the Islamic Calendar. Also, Eid-ul-Fitr marks the end of the month of Ramadan, in which Muslims fast from dawn to dusk.
Eid-ul-Fitr significance can be seen in the joy with which Muslims around the world celebrate it. Eid-ul-Fitr is considered a reward by Allah to the believers for the hardships they encountered during the month of fasting. Fasting on this day is prohibited as it is a day of feasting. The word eid refers to a holiday and the word Fitr means breaking a fast, thus Eid-ul-Fitr means a holiday for breaking fast. The day is marked with jubilation but on this day many Muslims also involve themselves in charity and doing good deeds. Eid-ul-Fitr’s significance can be most aptly seen in the faces of the children that run around on the street and the adults who greet each other with happiness and enjoyment.
Prayers & Celebration
The Eid ul Fitr prayer is the first thing that is done on Eid-ul-Fitr. The prayer can be done only in a congregation and is done in a large field side-by-side with a huge fair called the Eidgah.
The importance of Eid prayer is in the unity that is displayed among the worshipers who gather at the crack of dawn in neat and tidy clothes praising Allah as they come to prayer, reciting Allāhu Akbar, Allāhu Akbar, Allāhu Akbar. Lā ilāha illà l-Lāh wal-Lāhu akbar, Allahu akbar walil-Lāhi l-ḥamd Allāhu Akbar, Allāhu Akbar, Allāhu Akbar. Lā ilāha illà l-Lāh wal-Lāhu akbar, Allahu akbar walil-Lāhi l-ḥamd.
The recitation is done until the Imam or the leader presiding the eid prayer begins. Another importance of Eid prayer is that all the Muslims gather to begin their day of feasting by praising their Lord. There is no call given for the Eid ul Fitr prayer instead, in many places a common time is decided beforehand when all the worshippers are supposed to gather.
After all the worshipers have gathered, the Imam begins the prayer. The eid prayer is special in the way it is performed too, as it has just two rakaats (a complete set of four actions makes one rakaat) and the Takbir (raising your hand to your ears) is given six times.
After the prayer is completed the Imam begins his khutbah, the Arabic word for the sermon. Many scholars are of the view that the sermon of the eid prayer is as important as the prayer. Once the prayer is done and the sermon has been given, a wave of hugging and exchanging the salam and eid greetings washes over the congregation.
This begins the Eid ul Fitr celebrations that follow for often as long as three days. The worshippers leave the prayer grounds and move towards their houses, greeting anyone who crosses their paths. At home, various delicious sweets are prepared and mouth-watering dishes garnish the dining table.
On this day, Muslims put on new clothes, perfumes and the elders give out money and other gifts to the younger ones called their eidi. Children go out to the eid fair and choose out from a wide array of toys, dolls, and whatnot! Dishes like Biryani, Haleem, and Kebabs along with sweet dishes like Sevaiyya (Vermicelli) are specially prepared in Indian households to celebrate Eid-ul-fitr.
Wealthy houses give out food and alms in charity. Giving out zakat, voluntary alms, is one of the five pillars of Islam and thus special alms are given on Eid-ul-fitr in the spirit of brotherhood and sharing your blessings with the less fortunate ones.
3 Perfect Recipes For Eid
Food is a major component of Eid ul Fitr. After a month of fasting, this day is a reward for the believers from their Lord for their perseverance and devotion. Eid-ul-Fitr is not completed without food that makes you lick your fingers. Let’s see the recipes for one entrée (main dish) and two desserts that will put char chaand to your Eid ul Fitr celebrations.
1. Chicken Biryani
A good chicken biryani will make you forget everything else on the table. It is an easy dish to make but hard to perfect. If you manage to cook a perfect chicken biryani, which you can with this recipe, you will be treated as a Masterchef. On the day of Eid-ul-Fitr, chicken biryani is the perfect meal to bring everyone together.
- Half kg chicken (thighs and breast are best since they do not get dry and remain juicy)
- 3 teaspoons plain Indian curd (you can also go for hung curd for better taste)
- 1 ¼ tablespoon ginger garlic paste
- ½ to 1 tb spoon garam masala or biryani masala
- ½ teaspoon salt or as per taste
- ½ to 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 Teaspoon lemon juice (gives a bit of acidity)
- 2 cups Basmati rice
- 2 teaspoon saffron milk (soak two strands of saffron in a small bowl of milk)
- 1 bay leaf (tejpatta)
- 4 green cardamoms (elaichi)
- 6 cloves (laung)
- 1-inch cinnamon piece (dalchini)
- 1-star anise
- ¾ teaspoon jeera
- 1 strand of mace (outer covering of a whole nutmeg)
- 1 one onion
- First, prepare a marinade for the chicken. Take your chicken pieces and create small slits in them. Now in a large bowl add some ingredients – curd, ginger garlic paste, biryani masala, salt, red chilli powder, haldi and lemon juice.
- Leave the chicken to marinate for at least one hour. For best results, you can make the marinade the night before and let it rest in the fridge.
- Now let’s make the rice. Add 2 cups of basmati rice to a pot and rinse it thoroughly at least three times. Once the rice is drained, soak it in freshwater for at least thirty minutes. Drain in a colander and add two teaspoons of saffron milk over the rice.
- Let’s fry the chicken now. Heat ghee in a pressure cooker and use whole spices. Add the whole spices.
- Lightly stir fry, make sure the pressure cooker is smoking hot before adding the ghee and the spices. Thinly slice one whole onion and add to the pressure cooker and fry them till they are light brown. Stir them occasionally and take care of just slightly caramelizing them but not burning them. Add the marinated chicken along with the excess marinade and sauté for at least 5 minutes.
- Lower the flame completely and cover the cooker with a transparent lid and cook until the chicken looks soft and tender. Do not open and close the lid to keep the moisture locked in the chicken.
- Now, check if any moisture is left and cook without the lid to reduce the moisture. Taste and add salt if necessary and then add the curd, masala, red chilli powder, green chilli and mint leaves.
- Mix everything and spread the chicken out evenly. On top of the chicken, layer the drained rice. In a bowl pour 3 cups of water and add salt to taste. The water should taste slightly salty but do not overdo it.
- Now with a ladle or a large spoon, pour this water along the side of the cooker. Add the left-over water gently over the rice. Level the rice gently, do not apply too much pressure. Do not mix anything. You may choose to add a teaspoon of saffron milk, a few mint leaves, and fried onion.
- Seal the pressure cooker and cook for one whistle. Remove the cooker from the heat and let it rest. When the lid removes naturally, open it and gently fluff the rice.
- Layer the rice first, then the chicken, and then the rice again in a serving bowl and serve with raita or thin yoghurt.
2. Seviyan (Vermicelli)
The perfect Eid morning is not complete without a bowl of hot sevaiyya to start the morning. The key to this recipe is to be prepared beforehand. Keep your sevaiyya clean and ready to roast with dry fruits and milk within arm’s reach.
- Broken vermicelli
- Dry fruits (cashew, pistachio, dates, almonds)
- Edible silver paper (for garnish)
- Get your pan on the stove and get it smoking hot.
- Break your seviyan roughly and keep them aside.
- Now chop your dry fruits finely and keep them aside.
- Add 1 to 1 ½ tablespoon of ghee to the pan and let it melt in the pan.
- Add the seviyan to the pan and roast until they are golden. You can use pre-roasted or normal seviyan.
- Once the seviyan have absorbed the ghee add in the dried fruits (save some for garnish). Stir them nicely and mix thoroughly.
- Lower the flame and add in two cups of milk.
- Cook for two to three minutes, keep mixing it nicely.
- Now add ¼ cup of sugar and mix well.
- Keep cooking and at this stage, you may add milk powder too.
- As the mixture thickens, keep simmering on a low flame until all the milk has been absorbed then switch off the gas.
- Serve the meethi seviyan with a garnish of dry fruits and raisins. This recipe will surely give your household a bright mood on the dawn of Eid-ul-Fitr.
3. Shahi Tukda
After you have had your fill of the chicken biryani shown above, your sweet tooth cravings will kick in. This recipe is easy to make but as the name suggests, the dish is “shahi” or royal.
- 5 bread slices
- ½ cup ghee
- 500 ml water
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 crushed black cardamom (kaali elaichi)
- 6 strand saffron (kesar)
- 3 cup milk
- 2 pinches cardamom powder (elaichi)
- Dry fruits (cashews, almonds, pistachios)
- Add the water to a pan along with the sugar and start heating the water until the sugar dissolves.
- Once the sugar has dissolved, add the saffron strands.
- Let the mixture boil and make it thick until it reaches two-string consistency. To test the consistency, take a small pinch of the mixture and rub between your two fingers, and then pull them apart.
- You should see two strings between your two fingers.
- Once it reaches the consistency, turn off the stove and keep it aside.
- Take another pan, and on a medium flame boil the milk.
- Get the milk reduced to at least 1/4th of its original volume. Do not stop stirring or the milk will turn into curd.
- Add cardamom powder, 1/4th part of the sugar syrup, and mix well.
- Keep stirring and heating for five more minutes. After that turn the flame off and keep it aside to cool.
- Now take some regular slices of bread and cut them into triangles.
- Heat ghee in a pan and roast the slices until they are golden brown.
- Remove the slices and soak them in the remaining sugar syrup for a minute.
- Put them on a plate, pour the condensed milk mixture on top and garnish them with dry fruits. A perfect dessert for your cravings.
Eid ul Fitr history is a long tradition started 1400 years ago and Eid ul Fitr’s significance is more in the emotions of the worshipers than any other written text. It’s a reward from the Almighty to the believer for their endurance and perseverance in obeying the Almighty. An Islamic household waits for this event the entire year and it is a time when people come together, forgetting their differences and feuds in the name of humanity and devotion.