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Eid al-Fitr: religious celebration and cultural marker

While Muslims all over the world observe Eid al-Fitr, the New Year celebration of Nowruz remains the key marker of Iranian cultural identity.
Iranian vendors inflate balloons as a girl observes women kneeling in prayer at the historical Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan on August 31, 2011 on the first day of Eid al-Fitr in the predominantly Shiite Muslim Iran, marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. AFP PHOTO/BEHROUZ MEHRI (Photo credit should read BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

Eid al-Fitr is the most important Muslim festival and has the same standing in the Muslim world as Christmas does in the Christian world. It is widely celebrated in the Muslim world and leaders of non-Muslim nations, including the president of the United States, send their well wishes to Muslims on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr. 

Eid al-Fitr is the celebration marking the end of the month of Ramadan, looked upon as a reward from God after the month of fasting. It is similar to Easter since both of these celebrations happen after a long period of fasting. In both Christian and Muslim societies, there has been a change in the nature of these two celebrations as they are transitioning from a religious celebration to a cultural one. In such instances, the religious roots are gradually forgotten and are being replaced by cultural symbols.

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