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Muslims worldwide begin 3-day holiday to mark Ramadan's end
(CNN) -- Followers of Islam, estimated to number more than 1 billion worldwide, today begin a 3-day holiday that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
Celebration of the Eid al-Fitr holiday got under way Tuesday night in Indonesia, as millions of Muslims paraded through the streets of cities and towns across the country, chanting the name of Allah and setting off fireworks.
Festivities were taking place in Malaysia on Wednesday, where Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad opened the doors of his residence in Putrajaya to an estimated 100,000 people. Many of them were dressed in their best traditional clothes, and each received a customary gift of food.
Observations of the holiday were more somber in the West Bank and Gaza, where Palestinians traditionally visit family graves on the first morning of the Eid.
Thousands also gathered in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Islam's holiest site. Other believers around the world are gathering for prayers and thanksgiving, followed by family feasts.
Ramadan is Islam's holiest month, and falls on the ninth month of the Muslim year. During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food, drink and sex from sunrise to sunset.
The fasting month begins with the sighting of the new moon. The exact starting date -- which may vary from country to country -- is set by clerics. This year Ramadan began on November 27 in most countries, with Eid al-Fitr to last from December 27 to December 30.
The Ramadan fast is one of the five pillars, or basic institutions, of Islam. The pillars are:
Shahadah: Affirmation that there is no god but Allah and Mohammad is his prophet.
Salat: Praying five times daily.
Sawm: Fasting during Ramadan.
Zakat: Giving to charity.
Hajj: Making a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once.
The holiday spirit in action: 3 faiths worship under one roof
Ramadan on the Net
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