Eid-ul-Fitr is a centuries-old cultural ceremony in Bangladesh. The holy festival has now assumed the status of our national cultural ceremony though it is primarily an occasion celebrated by the Muslim community. It is now a fact that Eid-ul-Fitr is no more a community occasion, but a national cultural day - the greatest national cultural phenomena.
We know that the occasion was historically initiated and institutionalized by the holy Prophet Hazarat Mohhamed (SM) in 610 AD. It is known to us that the holy Prophet earned the sacred message of Allah from Jibril (or Gabriel) during the month of Ramadan the whole of which had been compiled into the Quran the sacred book of Allah's Message.
Therein lies the essential significance and sacredness of the Ramadan. It was the month-long patient devotion of the holy Prophet through which the divine compilation of the Quran was accomplished. Out of his holy perception, the holy Prophet formulated the prescription of the month-long Ramadan fasting.
So it was the holy prescription by the holy Prophet to his followers to maintain the ritual of fasting for the whole month of Ramadan and celebrate the holy Eid-ul-Fitr on the first day of the next month of Shawwal. It is also pertinent to mention that the holiness of the Ramadan can be and should be maintained not only by fasting but also by exacting more rigorous self-denial: one should apply better control over his or her physical or moral matters like greed, avarice, jealousy, atrocity and all sorts of anti-human activities. For, the purpose of the ritual is to dedicate the month-long self-control to pay respect to the act of completion of the Holy Quran the complete code of life prescribed by Allah.
The objective of the Ramadan fasting can hardly be achieved unless one practices the real self-rule meaning the moral and the spiritual governance in addition to mere fasting. One needs to keep sharp watch over one's moral vulnerabilities and frailties so that the complete sanctity is not damaged or harmed in any way.
This spiritual and moral perfection can be achieved through controlling our immediate aspect of biological greed. That is why the Ramadan fasting connotes both the biological fasting and the spiritual or moral fasting. All the sinful acts and tendencies have therefore been brought under the Ramadan ritual for complete control.
In Bangladesh as in many other countries of the world Eid-ul-Fitr is a major national occasion. It has acquired the status of being a national occasion not through any statutory rules but by virtue of its democratic potential. Bangladesh, where more than 90% population is Muslim, does not need any statutory sanction for this.
Rather it is a natural process by virtue of its democratic greatness the celebration has turned to be a national cultural day. Religion is a cultural item. Here in Bangladesh this cultural item has turned a national culture by virtue of its inherent potential.
It is an automatic natural process to which the whole nation extends spontaneous and whole-hearted sanction so that no human hand is required in making it a national occasion, nor is it imposed: it is all an auto-processed, self-earned fruit enjoyed, shared and honored by the entire nation. It is an occasion in which both the public (government) and mass people have spontaneous moral and cultural support, sanction and participation. That is why it is called the national cultural occasion.
In Bangladesh the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated in a grand fashion: there are a number of days attached with Eid-ul-Fitr observed as public holidays so that people may meet their relatives and neighbors at their native places and celebrate the rituals.
Along with its religious fervor the Eid-ul-Fitr offers grand entertainment by delicious dishes and fancy dresses. Enormous gift-giving is also a part of the Ramadan Eid-ul-Fitr.
There are special issues of publication in print media and such programs at all the public and private electronic media that highlight the significance of the occasion and its constructive impacts in nation-building programs and activities.
The intelligentsia, the poets and writers, critics and scholars produce their writings focusing on the significance, teachings and meaningful dimensions of the Eid-ul-Fitr as a cultural phenomenon.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs of the Government takes all measures for proper and befitting celebration of the Eid-ul-Fitr: it prepares the Eid-Prayer grounds (Eidgah) on massive scales so that the holy congregations can accommodate all the devotees at sessions of Eid Namaaz. Proper security measures are also taken by the Government so that peace and sanctity can be maintained and the day can be made truly a successful day for the nation.
In fine it can be said that the great occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr can be a great joy for all of us if the rituals of the day can distribute more peace and more fellow-feeling among us: For, one of the instruction is to share our love and sympathy with our poor and destitute neighbors.
The real joy lies in giving away our possessions to the poor who so eagerly wait at our doors for a little charity. Let us share our greater love and better sympathy for the poor and celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr every year that would guarantee more meaningful peace for all the humanity across the world.
The writer is Professor of English at Daffodil International University, Dhaka.
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