Festivals and Fairs


Festivals and fairs in the month of March

Eid-ul-Azha / Eid-ul-Zuha /Bakr-Idd - All over India
It is one of the most important festivals for Muslims and is celebrated all over India like other Muslim countries. This Eid is celebrated for three days, i.e. from the 10th to the 12th of month of Dhul Hijjah, and is marked by the sacrifice of animals (goat, sheep, camel, buffalo). This offering precedes the special prayers in the mosques. Delicacies are prepared and served and distributed among families and friends on this occasion.

The Eid-uz Zuha [1] commemorates the mental agony of Prophet Ibrahim, Abraham of the Torah. According to Islamic beliefs, Prophet Ibrahim had been put to a test by God when he was asked to sacrifice whatever was the dearest to him and he decided to sacrifice his first born son, Ismaeil, Ishmael of the Torah. On the altar at the mount of Mina near Mecca, as he was on the point of applying the sword to his son's throat, it was revealed to him that it was only a test to determine his measure of submission to Divine commandments and his love for his Creator, and that it was enough. Instead he would offer Allah the sacrifice of only a ram.

It is in honour of this test of Prophet Ibrahimís determination and his faith that Muslims around the world offer the Eid prayers, sacrifice an animal on the occasion to show their faith, allegiance, submission and sincerity to Allah. This is celebrated on the tenth day of Dhul Hijjah - twelfth month of the Muslim lunar calendar - when the Haj celebrations at Mecca are rounded off by the sacrifice of goats, sheep or camels. In India, the animal used most often for sacrifice is the goat - which is why the occasion is spoken of in Urdu as Bakhr or Bakra-Eid.

Eid also coincides with the anniversary of the day when the Holy Quran was declared complete. Haj (pilgrimage to Mecca) is one of the five pillars of Islam and is obligatory for those who financially sound enough to afford it besides providing enough means for their families left behind and not accompanying them; for others it is not.

For millions of Muslim pilgrims who gather at Mecca in Saudi Arabia, it is a real big day. Muslim calendar being a lunar one, this Eid also depends on the sighting of the moon. On this day of Eid, the pilgrims reach the grounds of Mina where they sacrifice an animal each. The pilgrims then shave their heads. The purpose is to identify oneself in attire and appearance with Ö millions of devotees who converge to Mecca each year for the pilgrimage.

In India, the day begins with a bath, after which namaz is offered. It is mandatory to sacrifice either individually or collectively if one cannot afford the full price of the animal. The sacrificial meat is then distributed amongst family, friends and the needy. Prayer meetings and Eid Milans (get-togethers) are part of the festivities. People visit friends and relatives wearing new clothes and jewellery. Children are given Eidi (gifts and cash money).

[1] Eid-ul Azha (also known as Baqra Eid, Bakra Eid or Bari Eid).

Thanks to Dr. H. U. Qureshi for his suggestions and corrections.