Mauritius – Eid-Ul-Fitr
It was the last day of the month of Ramadan. We just received the news that the moon had been sighted and I was on the roof of the house trying to catch a glimpse of the new moon. Thus, on the next day, along with the whole Muslim community we would be celebrating Eid-Ul-Fitr in Mauritius. After one month of fasting, we were all eager to celebrate this special day and grateful for having had the strength and conviction to complete the compulsory fast. Indeed, everything was ready; new traditional clothes to wear and ingredients to cook the famous biryani. I gave Mum a helping hand in the kitchen while my sister was busy applying henna on our little cousin’s hands. The atmosphere was festive with all these preparations. My father brought back a flyer with special Eid programs which would be held at the mosque.
On Eid day, the men usually attend communal prayers at the mosque early morning while the ladies pray at home. At the mosque the Imam gives a special sermon (locally known as khutba). We were already in the kitchen preparing breakfast when my father returned home and wished us Eid Mubarak! (Blessed celebrations). Only upon the return of the men from the mosque are we all allowed to wish each other Eid Mubarak. As per tradition we ate milk vermicelli (vermicelli cooked in milk with cardamom and cinnamon), not to forget some other local delicacies such as samosas, gato pimas, bajas and so on. During the day we welcomed loads of visitors; neighbors and friends both Muslim and non-Muslim, who came to wish us Eid Mubarak and have a cup of vermicelli. The children would wait politely to receive their Eidi (gift envelope with money offered to children). Many who came would bring a small cake specifically designed for the occasion.
In the afternoon, we all got busy setting up the table, preparing the salads, desserts and of course our famous biryani. Aunties, uncles, cousins, and grandparents were all meeting up for the much-awaited dinner. Once everyone arrived and greetings done, dinner was served. I could smell the delicious scent of the biryani well before the food was even set on the table. The meat was steaming hot on the plate, well-cooked, the potatoes came out whole and the rice, with the right mixture of ‘jaffran’ (spice from the flower Crocus sativus, dried threads used as seasoning and coloring in food) had the right yellowish shadings. At the dinner table, the general mood was ecstatic. Everyone was talking at the same time trying to catch up with each other.
The meal ended up with a light ice cream dessert as we could hardly eat anything more. Particularly, children were incredibly excited as they associated Eid-Ul-Fitr with gifts and feasts. It is after all an important religious feast celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan, an occasion of sharing with close and loved ones.