Ramazan (commonly referred to as Ramadan), is the fasting period, which is recognized by Muslims during the ninth month of the Islamic calender. Depending on the crescent moon cycles, this fasting period could last, either 29 or 30 days long.
The fast starts from dawn and ends at sunset, and serves many teaching lessons and purposes that include, self-discipline, sacrifice, charity and empathy for the less-fortunate, separation from worldly things and desires, and closeness to God.
After the fasting days of Ramazan, the end is marked by the two or three day celebration of Idu’l Fitr. This is the first day of the next Islamic calender month, Shawwal. No Muslim is permitted to fast on this day, as it is a “breaking of the fast” and a celebratory occasion.
The Islamic prophet Muhammad established Idu’l Fitr in Madinah after his migration from Mecca. It’s said he came across a people who were celebrating two specific days in the form of merriment, recreation, and fun. He took this experience, and said that the Almighty has given the day of Idu’l Fitr for his people to celebrate.
The night before Idu’l Fitr is called Chaand ki Raat, “Night of the Moon”. Many people use this night to get their gift shopping done and to prepare for the day ahead. A specific prayer is offered on this holiday in an open congregational setting that is offered up in two parts with an additional six incantations.
After a sermon and prayers, Muslims in India engage in festivities of gift-giving, feasts, bazaars, mehndi, visiting family members, and giving monetary donations to charities. The whole purpose of this holiday is to express rejoicing, thankfulness, forgiveness, gratitude to God, and remembrance of God.