The month of Ramadhan is coming to an end in a few days. It will then be a moment of joy and celebrations for Muslims with the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr.
Eid celebration this year is anticipated on Sunday 25 or Monday 26 June, or even on Tuesday 27 in the case of Rodrigues. The best probability, however, is Monday 26 June 2017 for both Mauritius and Rodrigues.
The Islamic calendar does not have a definite start and end date. There’s always an element of suspense because it consists of 29 or 30 days depending on the visibility of the moon. All Islamic festivals and events are based on the lunar calendar. It is therefore imperative to sight the moon first during the end of each month.
Factors to be considered when sighting the moon include the following:
- The timing of the new moon,
- The timing of the sunset,
- The weather conditions, and
- The geographical position.
In Mauritius the new moon will rise on Saturday 24 June at 06.43 hrs. It will set at 18.10 hrs, while the sun will set at 17.40 hrs. The time of setting is very crucial. There’s a very meager chance, if at all, that the moon may be visible as a thin lunar crescent in a very short lapse of time between 17.40 hrs and 18.10 hrs provided the sky is clear at the horizon.
But the setting sun’s rays might blur the vision. It’s because of this meager or virtually nil probability that we need to be careful during our observation. If at all the moon can be sighted then the festival will be celebrated on Sunday 25. But it is more likely that the moon will be visible on Sunday 25, which means a greater probability for Eid to be celebrated on Monday 26.
The case of Rodrigues is slightly different. Although Rodrigues forms part of the Republic of Mauritius, the visibility of the moon is a matter of distinct consideration due to its geographical position. By the way Ramadhan started a day later than in Mauritius because the moon couldn’t be sighted on the same day. Thus it may happen that the festival is not celebrated on the same day as in Mauritius.
According to schedule the moon will set at 17.45 hrs on Saturday 24 and the sun will set at 17.16 hrs. So the same scenario as in Mauritius is anticipated. The probability as in the case of Mauritius is very minimal. On Sunday the moon sets at 18.49 hrs and the sun at 17.16 hrs. There’s ample time (1 hr and 33 minutes) and a high probability of sighting the moon on Sunday 25 unless weather conditions dictate otherwise. Eid may therefore be celebrated on the same day as in Mauritius, that is, on Monday 26. Alternatively and in view of the fact that we’ll still be on the 29th day of the calendar, we’ll have to wait for another day. In this case Eid would be celebrated on Tuesday 27.
In Mauritius it’s the Jummah Mosque at Port Louis that has the authority of validating the sighting of the moon. It’s a matter of great pride and pleasure to observe the moon on the 29th day in view of the suspense. After that the day of celebration is obvious. Anybody observing the moon (they should be of Islamic faith) should advise the Jummah Mosque accordingly, supported by two other eye witnesses for validation. In Rodrigues it’s the Rodrigues Mosque administration that decides subject to the moon being sighted.
Remember the question of public holiday is a matter pertaining to the authority of the government. Being an integral part of Mauritius, Rodrigues will have to go by the public holiday decreed for the republic of Mauritius; although in the event that the festival may have to be celebrated on Tuesday 27 there may not an official holiday.
So Eid is celebrated on the first day of the 10th lunar month, Shawaal in the Islamic calendar. It is forbidden to fast on that day. It’s a day of rejoicing. It’s a day when Muslims have special thoughts for their close ones and those who’ve passed away. It’s a day when they forget all their differences and greet each other in a spirit of reinforced brotherhood. It’s a day when they gather in family around a feast, which are the traditional Biryani and a vermicelli snack, among others.
Unfortunately Eid may not have the same meaning for those who didn’t observe fast for insufficient or insignificant reasons as required by the rules.
Anyway Eid Mubarak to all.
Alfa King Memories
Mauritian residing in Rodrigues, Amanoola Khayrattee (pen name Alfa King) is contributing writer and journalist to La Gazette Mag de l’océan indien and This Week News Mauritius.
Retired, former meteorological cadre, trade unionist and OSH consultant, Amanoola has written for in-house union and other journals, publications and magazines. He runs two blogs since 2007: “Alfa King Memories”, and “Le Journal d’Alfa King”. When he is not reading or writing, he is on a 10+ km daily hike in anticipation of his monthly trails.
Amanoola may be reached at [email protected].