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In PHOTOS: Eid Mubarak

Last updated on: August 30, 2011 09:41 IST

In PHOTOS: Eid Mubarak

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Eid ul Fitr or the 'festival of fast breaking' is the most celebratory of all Muslim festivals.

Religious authorities in Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest shrines, said the new moon had been sighted and that Ramzan ends on Monday with the feast to follow on Tuesday.

The Islamic calendar is a lunar one, and most Muslim countries set the beginning of Eid-ul-Fitr by the sighting of the new moon.

According to the Wall Street Journal, because of the dispute over calculation of the new moon cycle, many in the Muslim world are divided on the date. Tradition states that when a sliver of the moon appears at sunset, the new lunar month begins.

Muslims in North America, Europe and the Middle East insist the holy day falls on Tuesday, but others, including those in South Asia and Southeast Asia, insist on a Wednesday date.

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Image: A Muslim woman prays in Jerusalem's Old City
Photographs: Ammar Awad/Reuters
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Eid Mubarak

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The term Eid has been derived from the Arabic word 'oud', which means 'the return' and hence, signifies the return of the festival each year.

The festival is significant as much for its timing, as for its religious implications. It is celebrated after the long fasting month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Islamic calendar), on the first day of the Shawwal month of the Hijri year (Islamic calendar).

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Image: Pilgrims pray in the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca
Photographs: Hassan Ali/Reuters
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Legend says that the Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed in the last ten days of Ramzan.

The month of Ramzan is historically associated with two important victories of Prophet Muhammad -- the battle of Badr and the conquest of Makkah.

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Image: Kashmiri Muslim men attend prayers outside Jamia Masjid in Srinagar
Photographs: Fayaz Kabli/Reuters
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Fasting during the month of Ramzan, according to Islamic beliefs, helps in developing self-control and is a way of getting closer to God.

The festival of Eid ul Fitr marks the beginning of celebrations and merriment for a period extending over three days.

Women prepare sweets at home and all Muslims are seen adorned with new dresses on this day. Eid ul Fitr is synonymous with joy and thanksgiving.

Such is the spirit of this great festival that even a lot of non-Muslims participate in Eid celebrations in India.

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Image: Muslims leave after their fast-breaking meal at the Jama Masjid in Old Delhi
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
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It is also believed that Ramzan is Allah's own month.

Another event which took place during the month of Ramzan was the battle of Badr, the battle between the inhabitants of Mecca and Medina.

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Image: A man and a boy hold hands as they walk through a corridor under the ruins of the Feroz Shah Kotla Mosque in New Delhi after prayers
Photographs: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
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It is the month to thank Allah for that he has given to human being.

So thereby saying no to food, drink, smoking and sexual activities during daylight all Muslims devote themselves to pray to Allah.

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Image: A Muslim boy prays as others gather during morning prayers at the Jama Masjid
Photographs: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
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Once the crescent moon is sighted, the Ramzan month comes to an end and its now the time for celebrations for the Muslims.

Eid Ul Fitr means to break the fast. Eid is the time to spread happiness, love, and triumph thereby creating enthusiasm among all the family members.

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On Eid day, all Muslims wear new clothes and go for special Eid prayer ceremonies in their near by mosque to thank Allah by reciting various prayers and Eid-Ul-Fitr Dua's.

According to the practices, followed by the Prophet Muhammad, Eid prayers are performed in the open sky.

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Image: A Muslim woman looks at jewellery at a shop
Photographs: Raj Patidar/Reuters
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After the prayers, there are get togethers at houses for an Eid meal and to celebrate the occasion together.

Muslim children have a joyful Eid celebration as they get clothes, gifts, perks, and sweets from all their relatives.

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Image: Muslims shop in New Delhi
Photographs: Kamal Kishore/Reuters
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Children make special Eid greetings for their friends and decorate their houses in their special ways to enhance the beauty of the Eid festival.

There is a festive look all around with people, specially children, attired in colourful clothes. The roads are crowded with revellers wearing huge smiles on their faces.

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Image: Muslim children hug each other after offering prayers

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The bazaars are crowded with people buying gifts for their near and dear ones. 

Sumptuous meals are prepared for the occasion and the feast ends with mouthwatering sweets.

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Image: Muslims buy food from a roadside stall in the old quarters of Mumbai
Photographs: Arko Datta/Reuters
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The elaborate lunch usually has biryani as the main item, accompanied by spicy mutton and chicken dishes like rogan josh and lip-smacking kebabs. The meal ends on a sweet note with delicious desserts like siwaiyyan and gulab jamuns. 

In Islam, Eid-ul-Fitr is a day of offering gratitude, a day to remember your loved ones. It is also a day of peace and a day of sharing your joy with others. 

Happy Eid!!

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Image: A Syrian seller displays Arabic sweets to sell at an old Damascus market
Photographs: Khaled al-Hariri/Reuters
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