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Student Blog

Celebrating culture in Pakistan

Date

Written by
Usman Ahmed Sheikh

BSc Computer Science student Usman explores some of the most significant festivals in Pakistan and how they are celebrated.

Pakistan student blog post

Pakistan is a diverse and culturally rich country that celebrates a wide array of festivals throughout the year. These celebrations reflect the country’s heritage and the diversity of its people. While Pakistan’s population is predominantly Muslim, there are also other communities, including Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and others, who celebrate their own religious and cultural festivals.  

Eid-ul-Fitr

Eid-ul-Fitr, also known as “Chand Raat” or the “Festival of Breaking the Fast,” is one of the most eagerly awaited festivals in Pakistan. It marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. The night before Eid, people fill the markets for last-minute shopping, especially for new clothes and gifts. Special prayers are offered at the mosque, and Muslims break their fast by enjoying a delicious meal with family and friends. Sweets and dishes like biryani, sheer kurma and haleem are prepared in abundance, and the tradition of giving and receiving Eidi (gifts, often money) among children is an integral part of the celebration. 

Eid-ul-Adha

Eid-ul-Adha, also known as the “Festival of Sacrifice,” commemorates the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Isma’il (AS) (Ishmael) as an act of obedience to God. Families who are celebrating this festival and who can afford to do so perform the ritual sacrifice of an animal, typically a goat or a cow, as a symbol of their faith. The meat is divided into three parts: one-third for the needy, one-third for friends and family and one-third for the household. The festival emphasises charity and the importance of sharing with those less fortunate.

Ramadan

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and is considered the holiest month for Muslims. It is a period of fasting, prayer, reflection and self-purification. During the day, Muslims abstain from food and drink, while they come together for special Taraweeh prayers at the mosque in the evening. The pre-dawn meal before the fast, known as Suhoor, and the evening meal to break the fast, known as Iftar, are times when families and friends gather to share meals and strengthen their bonds. 

Mawlid al-Nabi

Mawlid al-Nabi, also known as Eid Milad un Nabi, celebrates the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). This is a festive occasion with processions, prayers and public gatherings. Devotees express their love and admiration for the Prophet through various forms of celebration. Mosques and homes are often illuminated, and people read the Quran and listen to sermons that narrate the life and teachings of the Prophet (SAW). 

Independence Day

Pakistan's Independence Day, celebrated on 14 August, commemorates the day when Pakistan gained independence. The celebrations typically begin with hoisting the national flag at government buildings and public places, followed by parades, cultural events and fireworks. People wear traditional dresses in green and white, the colours of the Pakistani flag and express their love for their country. 

Basant

Basant is a cultural festival celebrated in the Punjab region of Pakistan to mark the arrival of spring. People fly colourful kites, engage in kite-fighting competitions and enjoy traditional Punjabi music and food. Wearing bright yellow clothing is customary on this day to symbolise the blossoming of flowers. 

Holi

The festival of Holi is celebrated by some Hindu communities in Pakistan, particularly in the Sindh province. This vibrant festival of colours involves people covering each other with coloured powders and water, dancing to music and enjoying sweets and snacks. It is a day of joy, forgiveness and the triumph of good over evil. 

Christmas

Christmas is celebrated by the Christian community in Pakistan. Churches are beautifully decorated and special midnight services are held to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. Families exchange gifts and Christmas feasts, featuring traditional dishes like roast chicken and fruitcake, are enjoyed. 

Diwali

Diwali, the festival of lights, is celebrated by the Hindu community in Pakistan. Homes and temples are illuminated with oil lamps and colourful candles. Families gather for prayers, to exchange sweets and set off fireworks to celebrate the victory of light over darkness. 

These festivals, both cultural and religious, reflect the rich tapestry of traditions and beliefs in Pakistan. The diverse communities living in the country coexist and celebrate these festivals with respect and tolerance, fostering unity and harmony among its people. Regardless of one's religious or cultural background, these celebrations provide an opportunity for Pakistanis to come together, strengthen bonds and cherish their shared heritage.

Usman studies BSc Computer Science in Pakistan.