Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, the month of daylight fasting in the Islamic religious calendar. The annual celebration is the most popular Muslim festival in the world and has been observed in New Zealand for over a hundred years.
The Islamic calendar is predicated on the cycles of the Moon, so the exact date of Eid al-Fitr (“eed-al-Fit-er”) fluctuates throughout the Gregorian calendar. Muslims will greet each other on this date with the special salutation “Eid Mubarak” (eed-mu-bar-ak), meaning “Eid blessings”. In Muslim majority societies, the festival is usually a two-to-three-day public holiday involving modest street parties, parades and bunting. In New Zealand, most members of the Muslim community will gather early in the morning for special congregational prayers, then return home to eat, with family and friends visiting throughout the day.
The essence of these celebrations comes from faith and family. If the centre of Ramadan is fasting and self-discipline, then Eid al-Fitr represents worship and gratitude. This worship is primarily articulated by the audible recital of Islamic prayers and constitutes one of the largest Muslim congregational supplications of the year. Gratitude is expressed by ending the fast with specially prepared foods, greeting and congratulating one another and sharing gifts. Homes are given an especially thorough clean and new clothes, headscarves and fezzes are purchased for the celebration. Many Muslims will also make an effort to read from the Quran, the scriptures of Islam.
Represented by dozens of nationalities, languages, customs and traditions, the New Zealand Muslim community is spread through every statistical district in the country. The distinctly New Zealand twist on Eid al-Fitr lies in the inclusion of these diverse communities into one broader culture, sharing the same prayer spaces for worship and fostering a collective sense of identity.
Date of issue: 6 April 2022