The morning after the last iftar of Ramadan is a special one. In parts of India, the aroma of freshly baked sweets mingles with the musky fragrance of burning incense. Children are up early, eager for the festivities, and of course, the gifts. Young girls wipe off their henna from the night before, hoping the intricate floral designs have stained a deep red. Families put on their best outfits and head to the mosque for Eid prayers.
Today and this weekend, Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan, the holiest of months for Muslims. One of the five pillars of Islam, fasting is prescribed for all Muslims, with the exception of the young and sick. From sunrise to sunset, those fasting restrain from drinking and eating. Instead, Muslims concentrate on improving their spirituality and building their relationship with God, their families and the community.
Celebrations may differ from culture to culture, from China to America, but all Muslims start their day by heading to the mosque and afterwards, gather with family and feast on traditional foods—mensaf in Jordan, couscous in Morocco, or biryani in Pakistan. The elders may hand out money to younger kids, families exchange gifts and children run around playing games.
In many nations, Eid celebrations continue for three days. The majority of Muslim countries have started the festivities today, although some countries, such as Morocco or Sri Lanka, will start Eid celebrations on Saturday.