chapter  XXIV
3 Pages

THE 'ĪDU-L-FITR FESTIVAL

THE 'idu-1-fitr festival, 'the breaking of the fast', also known as 'idu-1-saghir, 'the minor feast', by the Turks Ramazan Bairam,1 is observed on the first day of the month Shawwiil, the tenth month. This month is also known in India as the ' milk month ' ( dudh ka mahina), because Musalmans prepare vermicelli (siwdiyan), flour boiled in milk, and the 'vacant' month (khali mahina), because it is the only month in which no regular feast occurs, that to be described being supposed to belong to the previous month, Ramaziin, and hence it is called Ramazan ki 'id, and it is therefore included in it, as it marks the close of the Ramazan festival. In the Panjab this is the special feast of the Julaha weavers, as the 'ldu-1-qurban, '!d-i-azha, Idu-z-zoha, held on the tenth of the month Zii-1hijja or Zi-1-hijja, in commemoration of Abraham's sacrifice of Ishmael, is the festival of the Qassab butchers, the Shab-ibarat of the Kanghigars or comb-makers, and the Muharram of the Sayyids. 2

This is a festival of rejoicing after the tension of the Ramaziin or Lent, a carnival after sorrow common in Semitic worship. 8 In southern India before the feast prayers Musalmiins of both sexes and all ages bathe, apply antimony (surma) to their eyes, wear new clothes, which .second wives in northern India often present to the image of the first wife of their husbands, known as 'the first wife's crown' (saukan maura), in order to mollify their ill will towards them. 4 Before they go to the place of worship ('idgah, namazgah) they distribute alms (sadqa, jitra), the amount of which is prescribed by the Law, 5 among Faqirs

and the poor. This usually amounts to 2½sers or 5lb.ofwheat, dates, grapes, or any grain commonly used for food, and after giving this they are allowed to attend the prayer service. Between 8 a.m. and 12 noon the men form a procession and conduct the Qazi, or some other Musalman of learning and rank, to the place of prayer, most of them repeating mentally the glorification of Allah, or the Takbir : ' Allahu akbar ! Allahu akbar ! La-ilaha illallah ! Allahu akbar ! Allahu akbar ! Allahu akbar, wa illahu al hamd ! ' ' Great is Allah ! Great is Allah ! There is none so great as Allah ! Great is Allah ! Unto Him be praise ! ' The prayers together with a sermon in Arabic, read by the Qazi standing on the pulpit, staff in hand in imitation of the Prophet--on whom be the Peace !-last about an hoyr and a half. \Vhen the prayers and sermon are over, the Qazi is conducted back to his house, and the rest of the day is spent in feasting, making presents, _paying and receiving visits. 'vV'hen the men return, their mothers and sisters take some water coloured red and yellow, and while the men are outside the door they wave it over their heads and then throw it away in the hope that the Evil Eye and the influence of any unlucky thing on which they may have trodden may thus be . averted. Many, however, dispense with this rite. Should those who fast neglect to give the alms (fitra), the fast, the ' resting ' prayers and the seclusion pradised in the Ramazan will be kept suspendecl between earth and Heaven.