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Muslims constitute the second largest community of India. Working in India and living there as an expatriate would surely show you more than one Eid celebrations.
There are basically two types of Eids that Muslims all over the world celebrate. Eid al-Fitr, which comes first in sequence after the holy month of Ramadan followed by more than two months interval of Eid al-Adha, which falls on the tenth of the holy Muslim month of Dhu al-Hijjah. In India, both of these Muslim religious festivals are celebrated with much zeal and preparations with an officially declared holiday in all states and territories.
Etiquettes for Eid Celebrations:
Following the below mentioned Eid-celebration etiquettes will help you blend well amongst the Muslim residents of India.
• Extend your Eid greetings by saying small words like “Eid Mubarak ho ap ko” or “Happy Eid Day” on both Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. You can also send a text message or a customized electronic card to a Muslim friend, neighbor or colleague. However, like all other eastern norms, extending your greetings personally is always considered a divine gesture of friendship in India. Greet by extending your right hand, saying “Assalam-o-Alaikum” and hugging three times. Maintain your distance while greeting Muslim women, as they do not like to be touched while greeted.
• Muslims start Eid celebrations by taking a bath, wearing new clothes and offering special Eid prayers early on in the day. They visit the nearest Mosque to offer special Eid prayers also known as “Namaz-e-Eid”. You can also join in the celebrations by visiting the Mosque and listening to communal Eid speech – also known as “Khutba”. Like any other religious prayer, the namaz should be listened to in silence. Talking in-between the mosque congregation is considered disrespectful.
• After Eid-prayers, the Muslim community goes back to their homes where they gather in groups and celebrate Eid festivity over luxurious meals and dinners. Eating, that too all day round, is the norm. Also, guests are expected to come for formal Eid greetings. If you plan to visit a Muslim household for eid celebrations, care to take a box of sweet or cake as it is considered a good gesture to bring something sweet for the host. Expect to be given lots of sweet dishes on Eid al-Fitr also known as “meethi /sweet eid”. Refusing to take a sweet dish is not considered bad manners. You can always ask for another dish as the platter is always full of snacks, sweets and drinks.
• Expect to be given red meat during Eid al-Adha. Muslims sacrifice animals particularly camels, cow, goat and sheep. The sacrifice can be done in any of the three days of Eid al-Adha in order to revive the loving memory of Prophet Ibrahim’s act of submission to God. The sacrificial meat is distributed amongst the community and many dishes are cooked out of the very same meat. It is alright to refuse a meat dish in case of a vegetarian diet. However, do not refuse to take fresh meat as it is part of the Muslim religious custom to share sacrificial meat. You can always give it to someone else after taking it home.
Wear clothes that cover arms and legs. Refrain from touching Muslim women even if it is for the sake of greeting.