Millions of Muslims across China celebrated Eid al-Fitr Friday, the festival that signals the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan — a season of fasting and spiritual reflection.
Early Friday, Muslims of different ethnic groups in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, as well as in other Muslim-populated regions, donned festive costumes and swarmed mosques to hear imams preach.
Sumptuous foods have been prepared at Muslim homes celebrate the fast-breaking festival.
In Xinjiang, people can have a day off for Eid al-Fitr, and in Ningxia, the local government has decided to lengthen the public holiday from one day to two from this year, to enable Muslims to have more time to attend religious rituals and visit relatives.
At a Muslim cemetery in Artux City, in west Xinjiang’s Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture of Kizilsu, hundreds of people stood in silent tribute to their deceased relatives, recited the Koran and sprinkled rice before tombstones, in accordance with ritual.
In Urumqi, the regional capital of Xinjiang, local authorities had launched a drive to encourage family visits by citizens of different ethnic groups.
Amid efforts to cement ethnic relations that were impaired by a deadly riot last year, citizens of different ethnic groups are also encouraged to eat each other’s traditional foods during their family visits. The Han ethnic group has been prodded to enjoy “sanza,” a fried dough twist, and the Muslim groups moon cakes.
“I like eating sanza, but I didn’t know how to make it in the past. Today, I have the chance of learning how to make it from my Uygur neighbors,” said Yao Xilu, a Han citizen, while visiting the family of Aisan Molawut in the Heijiashanqianjie community in Urumqi’s Tianshan District.
“The exchanges between residents of different ethnic groups have increased since the drive was launched. They have a deeper understanding of each other, and many residents can even speak the languages of other ethnic groups,” said Yunus Taykule, a community official in Heijiashanqianjie.
Xinjiang has a population of more than 21 million. More than half of the population are Muslims from 10 ethnic groups, including Uygur, Kirgiz, Kazak and Uzbek.
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