RAMZANLegend says that God conveyed the message of Quran to Hazrat Mohammad through Gabriel in the days of Ramzan. All through the month of Ramzan the devout Muslims keep strict fast. Only before sunrise and after sunset they take any food. For the morning "Sehri", generally cooked in milk, and tea or water is drunk. Then the call for prayer is heard from the mosques, and the children and men set to their mosques to offer "Namaz". Women stay at their houses and recite the Koran. But the fasting during the days of Ramzan does not affect the daily routine of the Muslims and they go on with their daily chores.
As the sun sets, the call for the Maghrib prayers are heard from the mosques and the fast is broken. It is called "Iftar" and the fast is broken with a sip of water, a few dates and some fruits. The food taken in Iftar is called Iftari and special delicacies like fried cornflower, boiled grams and lentils, meat kebabs and sweet meats are taken. Thus the 29 or 30 days of the month of Ramzan pass and the sighting of the new moon brings glad tidings of Eid-ul-fitr and the end of the month of Ramzan.
EID-UL-FITREid-ul-fitr means the joy at the end of the days of fasting. This is the day following the appearance of the new moon. The Muslims put on their best clothes. The Eid prayers are said between the early morning and the noon prayers. Once the prayer is over they greet each other: Eid Mubarak! This festival is particularly the favorite of children. They are given special money called "Eidee" by their parents for buying toys and balloons on this day. Special delicacies are prepared. They include "Seviyan", vermicelli's sweet preparation, "Sheer Korma, and other savoury dishes.
EID-UL-ZUHAIt is one of the grandest festivals of the Muslims and it is also called Bakrid. It falls on the 10th day of the Muslim month of Zil- Hijja. Hazrat Ibrahim was ordered by Allah in a dream to sacrifice his dearest thing. So, he decided to offer his son and with the permission of his family blindfolded his son and struck him with his sword. To his amazement when he opened his eyes he saw that he had sacrificed a ram in the place of his son. This is the legend behind the festival. So on this day a ram or a goat or a camel is sacrificed and distributed among the near and dear ones.
This festival falls about two months and nine days after Eid-ul-Fitr. On this occasion Muslims who can afford go on a pilgrimage to Mecca and this is called Haj. On this day others go to the mosque and offer prayers. Charities are practiced on this day.
MILAD-UL-NABIThis festival commemorates the birthday of Hazrat Mohammad and it falls on the 12th day of Rabi-ul-Awwal month. Prophet Mohammad was born in 571 A.D on April12th, in Mecca in Arabia. On the day of Milad, the Prophet's teachings are repeated, the Quran is read and religious discourses are arranged in the mosques. The Muslims invite their friends and relatives for a grand feast on this day.
MUHARRAMThis is the Muslim festival of mourning. Muharram is observed in the first month of the Hijri year. The Shia community in particular celebrates this festival with great enthusiasm. They fast, offer prayers and recite the Quran and sing elegies in homage to the martyrs during the celebrations. On the final day, Tajjas are taken out in grand processions, accompanied by brass brands and bagpipes playing sad tunes. The Tajjas represent the mausoleum of Hazrat Imam Hussain. The processions terminate at Karbala where the Tajjas are ceremoniously buried. Hazrat Hussain was the second son of Fatimah, the prophet Mohammad's daughter.
The sad celebration called "Majlis-e-Shoora" is observed with great passion at Lucknow, the stronghold of the Shia community and also at Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. After the burial of the tajjas, they go to their places and offer money, etc to the poor. They observe this day of Martyrdom in peace and silence. Muharram is in fact a sort of ceremony for showing gratitude to the departed souls who fought so bravely for preserving their faith.
SHAB-I-BARATThe Muslims on this particular day, the fourteenth day of Shaban, God registers the actions of all men and dispenses their fates according to their deeds. It is celebrated with illuminations, fireworks and crackers. People distribute food and sweets in the name of their deceased ancestors and offer flowers for their graves. The shias associate this night with the birth of their last Imam.
BARAWAFATThis is the birthday of Prophet Muhammad as also his death anniversary. This is celebrated on the twelfth day of Rabi-Ul-awwal when the Muslims gather to hear the discourses on the Teachings of Allah. Distribution of alms to the needy is also done.
GIARAVAHIN SHARIFThis is observed on the eleventh day of Rabi-us-Sani, in honor of Abdul Qadir Jilani who is acclaimed as the descendant of Prophet Muhammad. Prayers, sweets and flowers are offered in his memory. This festival is of special importance for the Sunnis.