At the end of the Hajj (annual pilgrimage to Mecca), Muslims throughout the world celebrate the holiday of Eid al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice). During the celebration of Eid al-Adha, Muslims commemorate and remember Abraham's trials, by themselves slaughtering an animal such as a sheep, camel, or goat. The meat from the sacrifice of Eid al-Adha is mostly given away to others. One-third is eaten by immediate family and relatives, one-third is given away to friends, and one-third is donated to the poor. The act symbolizes our willingness to give up things that are of benefit to us or close to our hearts, in order to follow Allah's commands. It also symbolizes our willingness to give up some of our own bounties, in order to strengthen ties of friendship and help those who are in need. We recognize that all blessings come from Allah, and we should open our hearts and share with others.
A full month of fasting or Siam characterizes Ramadan, the ninth month of the Arabic calendar. Fasting is observed from pre-dawn to dusk. Precisely at sunset people partake of iftar, dishes of different kinds with cold drinks that soothe their thirst. This is a month of austerity and it teaches the Muslims a number of lessons, or rather makes them feel certain basic facts of life. It reminds them of the poor and their hunger as they undergo the experience itself. It teaches them fellow-feeling, sacrifice and temperance and most of all restraint. People pay Zakat, a poor tax, voluntarily but compulsive under religious strictures.
Shab means night and Shab-e-Qadr is a night of special significance. It takes place on the night of the twenty seventh Ramadan. The Quran was revealed on this night but there is a general lack of certainty, according to the hadiths, regarding the precise date of this occasion. The hadiths point at the odd night after the twentieth Ramadan, namely 21, 23, 25 and 27. People in Bangladesh observe the twenty seventh of Ramadan as the Shab-e-Qadr and they spend the night offering prayers which end with a Munazat after the Fazr prayers when, according to Quranic belief, Allah and the angels wait to give blessings to the pious.
Eid-e-Miladunnabi signifies the birth anniversary of Hazrat Muhammad (SM), the Prophet of Islam. He was born on Monday, the 12th Rabiul Awwal, an Arabic lunar month, in 570 AD. The Muslims of this sub-continent celebrate the birth anniversary of their Prophet with great respect, enthusiasm and passion for several days including the twelfth. The day is a public holiday.
It means the night of fortune. The Muslims believe that on this night Allah determines human destiny for the rest of the year. Most Muslims spend the night in prayers and Zikirs hoping Allah would forgive their sins. Housewives prepare sweet dishes and distribute flat bread among the poor. This takes place on the fourteenth of Shaban according to the Arabic calendar.
The Hindus have a number of religious festivals among which the Durga Puja is the most important. Durga Puja is to the Hindus what Eid is to the Muslims or Christmas to the Christians. The Hindu localities either collectively or individually have the images of goddess-Durga killing Mahishasura made in clay, daub the idols in paint and make them wear bright clothes. For 10 days beginning from the first appearance of the moon in Aswin, the youths dance to the sound of drums and cymbals. On the tenth day the image is immersed in water, usually in a river or pond and the devotees come back home. This is a great occasion of joy and merriment for the Hindus. New clothes are presented to all members of the family and there are a lot of exquisite dishes prepared on the occasion.
In tune with the rest of the world the Christians of Bangladesh observe their most important religious festival, X-mas, on the twenty fifth December to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Each house is tastefully decorated, the Christmas tree being an essential part of the decoration. There is the traditional Christmas dinner. And, of course, there is the traditional Santa Claus sending ripples of laughter on the innocent faces.