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FACTBOX: Five facts about Eid al-Fitr holiday

(Reuters) - Millions of Muslims in Indonesia, Malaysia and South Asia headed for their home towns on Friday to mark the end of Islam’s holiest month.

Here are five facts on the Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

* Eid al-Fitr dates are declared by moon-sighting committees, as it is timed to meet the new moon in each country. In Asia this year market holidays are being observed from Oct 12 in the Philippines through to Oct 15 in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

* In Arabic “eid” means “festivity” and “fitr” to break a fast. Common greetings for the holiday include “Eid Mubarak!” or “Blessed Eid”, “Eid Saeed!” or “Happy Eid!” and “Kul ‘am wa enta bi-khair!” or “May every year find you in good health!”.

* The day before Eid al-Fitr families typically donate food such as rice, barley or dates, to the less well off. The donation is known as “sadaqah al-fitr” or charity of fast-breaking. Eid itself marks the first day of the Islamic calendar’s month of Shawwal.

* On Eid itself, families typically wake early on the day of celebration, eat a small meal before attending special prayers at mosques, arenas or stadiums, and then go on to feast at friends or relatives’ houses, although hotels and restaurants also organize lavish end of Eid spreads. It is also a day for asking for forgiveness and visiting graves.

* Eid is low-key in most non-Islamic countries, but for the first time this year New York’s Empire State Building will be lit up in green to honor the festival, as green symbolizes a happy occasion in Islamic culture.

Sources: Reuters