Muslims Worldwide Celebrate Eid-al-Fitr



Muslims around the world are ready to celebrate one of the most important holidays on the Islamic calendar, Eid-al Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. In Indonesia, which has the world's largest population of Muslims, the celebration centers around family, food, and home. VOA's Nancy-Amelia Collins has more Jakarta.

Tens of millions of Indonesians are filling the roads, buses, trains, ferries, and planes in an annual exodus to return to their birthplaces to celebrate the end of the Islamic fasting month, called Idul Fitri here.

In Jakarta, businesses and shops are closed and the usually gridlocked streets are nearly empty as about half the capital's 12 million people leave the city for their hometowns.

Idul Fitri marks the end of the month of Ramadan, when Muslims are required to abstain from food, drink and sex during daylight hours.

Chris, a British Muslim married to an Indonesian woman compares Idul Fitri to the Christian celebration of Christmas.

"It's very much like Christmas or Thanksgiving for Muslims. And in Indonesia, this going home tradition's very strong, so the roads are blocked, millions of people are returning home," he said. "Me and my family are going to my wife's sister's house where they'll have a lot of people gathering and having fun, basically. Kids will get new clothes, we'll get some fireworks, that kind of stuff - it's just a good family time."

During Ramadan, bars, clubs and most entertainment spots have been closed. But some that dared to stay open have been raided by police or attacked by hard-line Islamic groups.

Eid begins on Saturday and includes asking for forgiveness for transgressions committed during the year, so as to make a fresh start.

"I'm going to the mosque with my family then I'm going to visit my extended family," said Zakky, an office worker in Jakarta. "We're going to forgive each other - say sorry for what we have done in the last year and then so we can have the day really as - start the day clean like Idul Fitri should be, a day of cleanness."

For most of the Islamic world Eid al Fitr begins on Saturday, but, millions of followers of Indonesia's second largest Muslim organization, Muhammadiyah Ulama, mark the holiday Friday.

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