Eid-e-Ramazan Customs

Eid-e-Ramazan is a major Afghanistan holiday. It will probably begin on Sunday or Monday, September 20 or 21, 2009. ("Eid" means "holiday").

What Eid-e-Ramazan Is

It is a 3-day festival which celebrates the end of the month of fasting. If you want to visit your friends and neighbors, this is the time to do it! Even if you have never met your neighbors, this is a great time to meet them and visit for the first time.

Some Afghanistan Culture Tips to Remember

Day 1: This is just for families. So don't go to someone's house on the first day unless you are invited. But do go on the 2nd and 3rd days.

For women, the Eid lasts 7-10 days, because the women are so busy serving their guests during the first 3-4 days, that they don't have time to go visiting. So it's actually culturally acceptable for women to go visiting and congratulate each other on their Eid for up to 10 days after Eid has begun.

For men, you might not find your male friend home, because the Afghans has so many obligations to visit others. You might have to go several times to see your friend. Just know that Afghans are obligated during Eid-e-Ramazan to visit first their oldest relative living, secondly those who have been bereaved, after that, their friends and other relatives. This is a huge time of obligations when they have to go visiting.

Day 2 and 3 - When you go, take a gift, like cake, fruit, or candies, and leave it in the corner. Don't present it, because that is rude, but they will find it.

Wear your best clothes - like clothes you would wear to an Afghan wedding. Take money to give children at the home you are visiting. This gift for children is called "eid-ee." This can be from 10 Afs to 150 Afs (150Afs if you are a close relative).

The average Eid-e-Ramazan gift would be about 30 Afs. It was suggested by some Afghans that foreigners give 50 Afs,, but the normal gift is just 10 Afs. Get brand new 10-Af notes if you can from the bank.

When you enter the compound/home, greet them with (Dari) "Eid-e-tan Mubarak" or "Eid-e-tan Tabrik" or (Pashto) "Eid- Mubarak." This means "congratulations on your eid" or "happy eid."

They usually say it back to you, but since it is not your Eid, you can say, "It is not my eid, but you can come to my house on my Eid" (Eid-e-Maladi Masi"= Christmas, "Eid-e-Shukoor" = Thanksgiving, Quiamat-e-Masi = Easter).

Men should greet men with three hugs, and women can nod their head to the men or shake hands with the men if it is a modern family. Women should kiss three times the women. Then go through the regular greetings after you do the Eid greetings.

General Guidelines of Behavior When Visiting Afghans

You can kiss the children on the forehead or cheek, and shake the hands of boys older than 12-14. With older, white-haired women, kiss three times and then kiss their hand.

When they ask you to sit down, first choose the spot closest to the door. If they move you to a place "higher" in the room, then acquiesce, but do not go there first. In Afghan culture, the place farthest from the door is the place of highest honor. So don't choose that until it is insisted you do so.

When someone new walks into the room, you need to greet them, even if you do not know them.

How you sit will bring shame on you and others if you do not do it the appropriate Afghan way. Sit on the toshaks (floor pillows) by cross your legs or put them to the side. Do not show show your bottom or point the bottom of your feet at anyone. Women, wear a long dress. For men and women: make sure your shirt, chadar (large scarf), or dress cover your legs.

Don't every stick out your legs straight in front of you - if you do, cover your legs. Ask permission to stretch your feet in this manner. If you do not have something to cover your legs with, they will bring you a blanket.

Use your right hand to eat things, and eat slowly - otherwise they'll keep filling your plate.

Back to What You Should Do at Eid-e-Ramazan

During Eid-e-Ramazan, you should just be visiting for 10 -30 minutes maximum, and only snacks will be served. Make sure you drink at least one cup of tea, but 2 or 3 is better.

If you are invited to stay for lunch, DON'T. The only exception to this may be if you are out in a village and you know the people well. If they invite you to stay, you may feel more free to stay.

Since most compounds have more than one family in them, make sure you visit every living unit in the compound. Bring the same gift to each one. Remember that as you visit people, you are bringing honor to them, so treat them equally.

If you have 4 co-workers, visit each of them, and bring each of them the same gift. Why? In a shame and honor culture, like Afghanistan, to visit one co-worker and not the other is to bring honor to the one you visit and shame to the one you didn't visit by default.

Ask permission to leave, and then get up and go - no matter how many times they insist you stay for lunch, DON'T.

Most importantly: HAVE FUN!

Speaking of tea, I feel a green tea break coming on...

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