Eid ul-Fitr has been a recognized international holiday for Muslims for centuries, but for Muslims in the Philippines it has only be instituted for a decade. Now, at the end of Ramadan, the Golden Mosque in Quiapo, Manila is filled to the brim with worshippers, proud to be able to openly celebrate this joyous time.
Eid will fall on October 13 of 2013, marking the end of the Holy month of Ramadan.
History of Eid ul-Fitr in the Phillippines
In the Philippines, Eid ul-Fitr, is known as “Wakás ng Ramadán,” which means”End of Ramadan.”In 2002, it was recognized by the Government in the Philippines as a regular holiday. It was signed into law on November 13, 2002, becoming the only Christian country worldwide to have done so. This law was enacted in foster peace and harmony among all the major religions in the Philippines.
The first national commemoration of Eid ul-Fitr was on December 6, 2002, marked by prayers and celebrations by the Muslim people. The largest gathering in the country is in the Quiapo district in Manila.
The Story of Eid
Hari Raya Puasa, or Eid al Fitr (festival breaking the fast), is a Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan (sawm) or Puasa, the season of fasting and prayer. The period of Ramadan lasts 29-30 days and is one of the five pillars of Islam. Once it is finished, Muslims are not allowed to fast on the day of Hari Raya Puasa.
The holiday is held on the first day of Syawal, on the Hijrah Calendar, and on October 15, 2013 on the Gregorian Calendar. Many Muslims attend communal prayers, listen tokhutba (sermons) and give zakat al-fitr (charity in the form of food) during the ceremony. It is a time of forgiveness, of letting go of old grudges. Participants take this opportunity to clean their homes, and to buy or make new clothes, as symbols of their new found purity. Eid is observed in Asia, Africa, and many places throughout the world – countries with a predominate Muslim population.
Hari Raya, literally meaning “celebration day” is a period of feasting and celebration, of respite after the month of sacrifice.
At the end of Globo de Oro Street in Manila’s Quiapo district, the Masjid al-Dahab, or Golden Mosque, because of the striking color of its dome, was built in 1976 at the request of First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos. Its construction coincided with the visit of Libya’s former strongman Muammar Gaddafi, which had to be cancelled due to public relations difficulties. The mosque is the largest in the city and has become the center of Islam in Manila. (You can view a map of Quiapo and hotels in the area).
Each year, during the festival of Eid, thousands of Muslims file indoors to pray their prayers of gratitude to Allah for aiding them through the difficult time of Ramadan. Although the mosque is large, it is not big enough to accommodate all of the patrons, and some unfortunate fellows are forced to perform their sacred rituals outside the building. It’s a breathtaking sight as all these individuals gather in thankfulness and prayer. You can hear their voices lifted high as they sing songs of praise to Allah.
This is also a time of reunions and forgiveness, and participants cleanse themselves of old grudges in order to harbor purer relationships.
Tips for the Prepared Traveler
Although October in the Philippines is technically the end of the rainy season, if you’re planning to visit the area, know that temperatures average in the mid-80s, and it is severely humid. Wear light, breathable clothing, comfortable shoes, and sunscreen. And, as this is a religious holiday, if you wish to have a closer look at the festivities, dress modestly.