After the fasting and self-discipline of Ramadan, Eid arrives as a time of celebration for Muslims across the world. The basic tenets of this festival–prayer, charity, forgiveness, feasting and spending time with loved ones—are the same globally. But are there any unique, country-specific traditions? You bet!
Here are four distinct and interesting Eid customs from Indonesia, Russia, Singapore and the UAE:
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Eid is incomplete in Indonesia without lapis legit: a rich, multi-layer dessert that traces its origin to Dutch colonial rule. The name actually means ‘thousand layer cake’, but that number (thankfully) is not mandatory when someone’s baking it at home!
To further sweeten this festival, the Indonesian government also mandates that employers must pay their Muslim staff a salary bonus. It comes under the country’s ‘religious holiday allowance’, and is also required for those observing Christmas, Vesak, Chinese New Year and a Hindu festival called Nyepi.
In the North Caucasus region, children can be found running from house to house with open bags. Why? Because they are promised a bounty of sweets during Eid! In Dagestan, eggs with bright stickers are another symbol of Eid, and enjoyed as a traditional food. One can also enjoy masterclasses on skills like tying a headscarf, practising embroidery or making clay products.
Buying a new kandora (the long, traditional white robe) or dyeing existing kandoras with walnut oil and cardamom is a common practice for men during Eid. In Dubai, the glamour of the city also extends to Eid festivities, with entertainment shows including theatre, plus local dances like the tanoura (photo above) and al-razfa. This year, an exciting hologram concert is also taking place at the Dubai Opera, along with fountain shows and the Dubai Comedy Festival.
Geylang Serai, one of Singapore’s oldest Malay settlements, is lit up in a sea of colourful lights for Eid. In 2021, these festive displays will be live till May 23. An annual bazaar packed with shopping opportunities and traditional foods also opens every year, but will be held virtually now due to COVID-19. Online baking shows, music performances and other cultural events make Eid in Singapore a fun time for all residents.
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