These six incredible festivals in Pakistan are part of Pakistan’s unique Muslim culture.
Pakistani society is largely multilingual and 96 percent Muslim, with high regard for traditional family values.
However urban families have grown into a nuclear family system due to the socioeconomic constraints imposed by the traditional joint family system.
There are about four million people of Pakistani descent living abroad. Nearly half a million expatriates live in the United States; while one million live in Saudi Arabia and nearly one million in the United Kingdom.
One way which helps connect Pakistani families living in the diaspora is celebrating the traditional holidays and festivals.
Here’s a list of 6 amazing festivals and observances in Pakistan.
Ramadan is the holiest month of the Islamic calendar. It is a month of fasting from sunrise to sunset, and self-discipline. Observed by Pakistan’s Muslim majority, Muslims will fast during Ramadan, attend mosque with increased frequency, and recite the Qur’an. Special foods are cooked and parties are held.
Chand Raat is the “moon night” when a crescent moon is sighted on the last day of Ramadan and the next day is Eid al-Fitr. People celebrate Chand Raat by various means, such as girls putting henna on their hands. People buy gifts and sweets that will be given to friends and families who come over to celebrate the end of Ramadan.
The streets, major buildings and landmarks, even outside of malls and plazas, put on displays of elaborate decorations and colorful light shows. There are large crowds in the city center to celebrate the beginning of Eid, and it is usually a boom time for business.
The two Eids, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, commemorate the passing of Ramadan, and the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael for God. There are national holidays and many festival events that take place to celebrate Eid. As Pakistan is a Muslim state, there are three days off for all businesses and government offices.
On the night before Eid, people search for the new moon to mark the end of Ramadan and arrival of Eid al-Fitr. The day starts with morning prayers and a large breakfast with family members. People visit family and friends, and share gifts and sweets. During the evening, Pakistanis often party, visit restaurants, or relax in city parks.
Money is given for charity and as gifts to young children. On Eid al-Adha, people may also distribute meat to relatives and neighbors and donate food for charity.
Milaad un Nabi
Milaad un Nabi is a known religious festival which is celebrated in many parts of Pakistan. The Milaad is the celebration for the birthday of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar. Like Ramadan, Muharram is also a sacred month. Fighting is forbidden during this month and Shia Muslims mourn on the tenth day of Muharram (Ashura), while some fast.
Jashn-e-Baharan sometimes referred to as Basant, is a pre-Islamic Punjabi festival that marks the coming of spring. Celebrations in Pakistan are centered in Lahore, and people from all over the country and abroad come to the city for the annual festivities.
Kite flying competitions take place all over the city’s rooftops during Basant but are now prohibited. The arrival of spring was an important event for all farmers and was welcomed with a celebration, hence the name Jashn (celebration) Baharan (spring).
Saira Rao is an editorial intern at Sharnoff’s Global Views.