Hundreds of thousands of Muslims celebrated Eid Al Fitr in New Zealand on July 28, 2014, marking the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan.
Following the Eid prayers at Mosques, men, women and children, donning new clothes, greeted each other and exchanged gifts and sweets.
It was also a day for offering food, clothing and alms to the poor as per the teachings and traditions of Islam.
The spirit of oneness and solidarity was evident as Non-Muslims joined in the celebrations, greetings their Muslim brothers and sisters.
According to the Holy Quran, a month of fasting from dawn to dusk and total abstinence from worldly pleasures purifies the body and soul.
It may have been a cold and overcast day in some parts of New Zealand but the depressing weather did not dampen the spirit of Eid Al Fitr.
“Let there be peace and May God keep you and your family happy and prosperous,” were the words that emanated from all of them, as if on a cue.
But then, such is the spirit of Islam that fraternal feelings transcend religious beliefs and vicissitudes. Social status and income levels hardly enter the equation and the mood is one of gaiety and fun.
As usual, family lunches and dinners were among the activities that characterised the First Day of Eid. It is a matter of gratification that the growing Muslim population in New Zealand has adhered to the traditional values of Islam.
Eid-Al-Fitr may seem on the surface to be of religious significance to Muslims only but the Festival offers opportunities for people of different backgrounds to come together. It symbolises understanding, tolerance and togetherness which are catalysts for peace and harmony.
The importance of Eid Al Fitr is underscored by the fact that it is celebrated in New Zealand’s Parliament, indicating the growing respect of politicians for interfaith. In the US, UK, Canada, Europe and several parts of Asia, where Muslims are in minority, the respective Presidents or Prime Ministers mark the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan with their Muslim colleagues and members of the community.
Muslims have a rich history of celebrating festivals, each of which is a combination of religious and social factors and on such a score, Eid Al Fitr marked a special occasion in the Islamic calendar.
Special prayers, decoration of homes and offices with colourful lights, distribution of special food and sweets mark the three day festivities in the Arab world. The celebrations included recitation of the Holy Quran and poetry in the praise of Allah and Prophet Muhammad.
Since Muslims make up a rich tapestry of many nations and languages, these are recited in the local language besides the traditional Arabic for Quranic recitations.
Indian Newslink visited a number of groups and families on the first day of Eid Al Fitr wishing them Eid Mubarak. The pictures appearing in this Special Report highlight the festive mood of the community.