Early Saturday morning, thousands of Muslims in northwest China’s Ningxia region donned costumes and prayed in mosques, celebrating Eid al-Fitr, a day marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
SOUNDBITE(CHINESE)SHA ZONGYUE, Muslim in Yinchuan:
“Eid al-Fitr is one of the most important festivals for Muslims across the world. We are very happy to come to the mosque for prayer and share happiness with others.”
Ramadan is seen as a holy and auspicious month for Muslims when they can purify their hearts, strengthen their minds and contemplate the doctrine.
During Ramadan, the ninth month of the year in the Muslim calendar, Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex from sunrise to sunset.
SOUNDBITE(CHINESE)MA FUZHEN, Muslim in Yinchuan:
“Each Muslim should obey the rules during Ramadan. The senior should set a good example for the junior. Ramadan is important, as it is meaningful in cultivating a good atmosphere in the family.”
35-year-old Ma Shoudong was appointed as the imam in Xihuan Mosque six months ago.
During Ramadan, he led the prayers five times a day, and gave Muslims lessons on the Koran twice, once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
SOUNDBITE(CHINESE)MA SHOUDONG, Imam of Yinchuan Xihuan Mosque:
“I have been motivated by the belief towards Allah. I believe I benefited from Ramadan not only in spirit. I lost several pounds and it’s good for my health.”
Eid al-Fitr is also an occasion when Muslims commemorate their ancestors and mourn the dead.
After attending morning prayers, many muslims in Ningxia paid tribute to their forefathers at cemeteries. Then they went home for family gathering.
Ningxia has China’s largest muslim community.
There are more than 2.36 million muslims in Ningxia, accounting for over 35 percent of the total population of the region.
The Eid holiday lasts five days for Ningxia, with many scenic spots offering discounts for muslims.