Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Lebanon announced they would celebrate the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr on Friday, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and the start of the month of Shawwal. Their respective Sunni religious leaders ruled on the day after days of discussions.
The end of the month of fasting and purification depends on the sighting of the moon, and can therefore be observed on different days around the world.
Until yesterday’s ruling, based on observing the progress of the new moon, it was not clear whether Eid would take place on Thursday or Friday.
Most Gulf states follow Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest cities of Makkah and Madinah, to set the day of the Eid feast. But this year, Egypt and Lebanon picked the same day.
Celebrating Eid on a Friday, the Muslim holy day, is considered especially auspicious.
Eid al-Fitr celebrates the purification achieved by a month of sunrise-to-sunset fasting, one of the five pillars of Islam, and is marked by several days of festivities.
This is also an opportunity for millions of Muslims to go home to spend time with the family.
It is also cause for major headaches. In Indonesia, the roads that link the country’s main cities are congested with cars. In Saudi Arabia, Makkah airport is jammed with by tens of thousands of pilgrims heading home.