Id-ul-Fitr means the 'festival of breaking the fast'. Fitr is derived from the word fatar meaning 'breaking'. Another connotation suggests that it is derived from fitrah or 'alms'. Certain Sunni Muslims believe that fitr comes from fitrat meaning 'nature' and Id-ul-Fitr is the celebration of god's magnanimity in providing nature to man
Celebrated on the first day of the new moon in Shawwal, it marks the end of Ramzan. In the morning everyone bathes, wears new or clean clothes, applies perfume, eats dates or some other sweet before walking to the mosque for Id prayers. Men wear white clothes because white symbolizes purity and austerity. On this day, according to the Quran, Allah has ordained a dole for every Muslim who is free and is in possession of alms worthy capital. This charitable gift, called Sadaqah Fitr, is a dole to break the fast. It is to be given to a needy person as thanksgiving. Even one who has not kept the rozas is expected to give alms.

The amount to be gifted must be in excess of one's essential needs and free from all encumbrances of debt. Food grains or their cost are donated. The Quran also specifies the grain and their quantities. A person should give 3.5 lb of wheat or its flour per head, or 7lb of barley per head or their cost.

Do Rakat Namaz is performed in the mosque. These prayers can be read anytime between sunrise and just afternoon. In India, it is customary to say them in the morning. Even women in purdah attend the namaz prayers in special chambers in the metropolitan cities. Id milans are part of the rituals in which people embrace each other three times, as is laid down in the Quran.

The festival originated when after proclaiming Ramzan as the period of fasting and austerity, Prophet Muhammad announced a day for celebrations to reaffirm the feeling of brotherhood.
Women prepare sweets at home. Sevian, or vermicelli cooked in sweetened milk, is popular. People then go for Id milans. Some people visit cemeteries and stay there for many hours, often even camping out overnight. This is perhaps to honor their ancestors and to be with their spirits. To a devout Muslim, Id is a time to forget all past grievances.

Id-ul-Zuhat is one of the most important festivals of the Muslims. It is called Id-ul-Adha in Arabic and Bakr-Id in the Indian subcontinent, because of the tradition of sacrificing a goat, or bakr in Urdu. It is celebrated from the10th to the 12th day in the month of Dhul Hijjah. The word id derived from the Arabic iwd means 'festival' and zuha comes from uzhaiyya, which translates to 'sacrifice'. Id-ul-Zuhat commemorates Prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son on god's orders. According to Islamic belief, to test Ibrahim, Allah commanded him to sacrifice his son Ismail. He agreed to do it but found his paternal feelings hard to suppress. So he blind - folded himself before putting Ismail on the altar at the mount of Mina near Mecca. When he removed his bandage after performing the act, he saw his son standing in front of him, alive. On the altar lay a slaughtered lamb.

Joyous festivities and somber rituals mark this event. The main celebrations are on the first day of the three-day festival. According to the rules laid down for Id by Prophet Muhammad, every Muslim is expected to take a bath, wear new clothes, apply itr or perfume, walk to the mosque before eating anything, and recite theTakbir aloud. After the prayers, which are held in an open space in deference to the directive of the Quran, he is tore turn home.

Celebrations on the first day include Do Rakat Namaz, which can be performed any time from sunrise to just after noon. The prayers during this festival are considered more rewarding than other daily or weekly offerings. Every Muslim owning property worth 400 grams of gold or more is expected to sacrifice a goat, sheep or any other four-legged animal during one of the three days of the festival. This symbolizes devotion to Allah and his desires.
The sacrifical meat is then distributed and partaken of after the Id prayers. Prophet Muhammad had decreed that the entire community celebrate Id for three days to facilitate participation. Prayer meetings and Id milans are part of the festivities. People visit friends and relatives wearing new clothes and jewelry. Children are given idi or gifts and money. In the Indian subcontinent sweets are exchanged. Vermicelli or seviyan, a traditional sweet, is prepared specially for this festival. Id also coincides with the anniversary of the day when the Quran was declared complete. It is the time when many Muslims undertake Haj to Mecca.
During Haj, pilgrims symbolically go through several events in the life of Prophet Ibrahim and his son, Ismail, while building the Kabah. On reaching Mecca, devotees walk around the Kabah seven times and run seven times between the Safa and Marwa hills. After a night halt at Mina, they go to the Arafat plain, where Muhammad preached his last sermon. They pray together till dusk, spend the night there, then return to Mina to enact the 'stoning of the devils' ritual, in which seven stones are thrown at three stone pillars commemorating Ibrahim's rejection of Satan. After sacrificing an animal, they have their hair shorn off and go around the Kabah seven times, to complete the rites of the pilgrimage.

During Haj, men and women are expected to adhere to a very strict code of conduct. Male pilgrims wear only two white sheets of cotton, so that all of them, whether rich or poor, look alike. Women have no special dress. They must be covered from head to toe, except that their face is unveiled. The use of cosmetics and soap is prohibited, as is cutting hair and nails. Physical relations are also not permitted. Every Muslim is expected to go for Haj at least once in his lifetime. The poor and the sick are however, pardoned. Those who cannot undertake the pilgrimage are expected to celebrate Id-ul-Zuha. The government of India makes provisions for Muslim pilgrims to travel to Mecca. Large numbers can be seen at international airports, waiting for their flights.

Bakri Id - a day of sacrifice for Muslims

It all started with a dream in which Allah directed the patriarch Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ismail. Ibrahim's allegiance to the word of Allah and his son's faith in his father were on test. The dream recurred thrice before Ibrahim told Ismail about it. The two went to a mountain where Ismail tied a cloth round his father's eyes before offering himself to be sacrificed. But when Ibrahim opened his eyes, he found his son safe and sound. In his place lay a dead dumba or ram. It is in honour of this test of faith that Muslims around the world sacrifice an animal on the occasion of Id-ul-azha to show their faith, allegiance and sincerity towards Allah. 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 Bakri-Id.
For the millions at Haj in Saudi Arabia, it is a big day. On the day of Id, the pilgrims reach the grounds of Mina where they sacrifice an animal each. It was here that Ibrahim is believed to have sacrificed his son. The pilgrims then shave their heads. The purpose is to be one with the millions of devotees who converge to Mecca each year for the Haj.