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The simple pleasures of Eid: Family, flowers and piles of sweets

By Sarah Brown and Stina Backer, for CNN
August 9, 2013 -- Updated 1759 GMT (0159 HKT)
During an Eid spent in India, Laurens Meulman, 35, from the Netherlands, spotted an irresistible photo-opportunity after she'd been invited to share food with a family in a square behind the Taj Mahal. "The henna-painted hands of one of the women in the group caught my eye and I asked her if I could to take a photo," she said. During an Eid spent in India, Laurens Meulman, 35, from the Netherlands, spotted an irresistible photo-opportunity after she'd been invited to share food with a family in a square behind the Taj Mahal. "The henna-painted hands of one of the women in the group caught my eye and I asked her if I could to take a photo," she said.
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Hands on at Taj Mahal
Dress to impress
Old Delhi food rush
Feeding Cape Town
Fruits, treats and temples
Streets of brotherly love
Eid Brooklyn style
Sweet tooth in Benghazi
Rows of silence
Waving the flag for Eid
Henna on the beach
Eid traditions in Trinidad and Tobago
Eid in a refugee camp
A very special Eid family portrait
Spectacular shopping center decorations
The long journey home
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Eid, or Eid al-Fitr, marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting in Islam
  • We asked for readers' best Eid memories and photos via CNN iReport
  • Photos showing local Eid celebrations flooded in from Trinidad and Tobago to India
  • Food, family, celebration and charity were some of the most important themes

(CNN) -- For the world's Muslims, the festival of Eid al-Fitr is a perfect conclusion to Ramadan -- the month-long period of fasting and contemplation practiced by observers of Islam around the globe. One of the most festive periods in the religion's calendar, Eid is often commemorated with large feasts, family-time, and through charitable acts and donations.

As part of CNN's series celebrating the most spectacular festivals and events across the globe, we asked our readers to share their images of Eid traditions, both past and present. In response, we discovered a rich narrative of the holiday, and customs as diverse as the people who celebrate them.

For Yassir O. Nassif in Saudi Arabia, Eid means measuring his three-year-old son Mazin up for new clothes, in this case a brand new customized thobe, a traditional ankle length garment commonly worn in Gulf countries. But the holiday is not just about the outfits -- it's about the family, he says.

Sweet Eid: Breaking the fast with world's tastiest treats

Summer solstice, the longest day of the year, arrives in the Northern Hemisphere on June 21. It's a time when bonfires are lit, traditional songs are sung and more often than not, clothes come off. Robban Kanto and his friends, who celebrated the longest day in Zinkgruvan in Sweden last year, couldn't resist a quick skinny-dip before the night was up. Summer solstice, the longest day of the year, arrives in the Northern Hemisphere on June 21. It's a time when bonfires are lit, traditional songs are sung and more often than not, clothes come off. Robban Kanto and his friends, who celebrated the longest day in Zinkgruvan in Sweden last year, couldn't resist a quick skinny-dip before the night was up.
Solstice celebrations around the world
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How do you welcome summer? How do you welcome summer?
For the first few weeks in July, night skies on both sides of the Atlantic are lit up by spectacular fireworks -- from America's 4th July to Bastille Day in France, with a host of international fireworks competitions in between. To honor this pyrotechnic frenzy, we asked you to send us some of your sparkiest fireworks shots from across the world.
Marcia Taylor's day job, as a British Airways' cabin crew member, takes her all over the world -- but the 27-year-old never travels anywhere without her camera. Believe it or not but this was her first time shooting fireworks. She traveled to Paris especially for the fireworks on Bastille Day last year.
"It was a disco theme, the music started and as soon as the fireworks began the crowd had a fantastic atmosphere, every single person was on their feet singing along not taking their eyes of the fireworks," she says. For the first few weeks in July, night skies on both sides of the Atlantic are lit up by spectacular fireworks -- from America's 4th July to Bastille Day in France, with a host of international fireworks competitions in between. To honor this pyrotechnic frenzy, we asked you to send us some of your sparkiest fireworks shots from across the world. Marcia Taylor's day job, as a British Airways' cabin crew member, takes her all over the world -- but the 27-year-old never travels anywhere without her camera. Believe it or not but this was her first time shooting fireworks. She traveled to Paris especially for the fireworks on Bastille Day last year. "It was a disco theme, the music started and as soon as the fireworks began the crowd had a fantastic atmosphere, every single person was on their feet singing along not taking their eyes of the fireworks," she says.
Beginner's luck
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The world\'s best fireworks displays The world's best fireworks displays
This image of colorful powders, which are used to make rangoli artworks during Diwali, was snapped by iReporter Digamber Singh Rayamajhi as he walked through the busy streets of Kathmandu, Nepal.
"As it is Diwali time the roads were bustling with people coming to shop," he says. "There were lot of little street shops on the pedestrian foot paths selling candles, colors, spices. I thought it looked beautiful and I just clicked few pics through my cell phone." This image of colorful powders, which are used to make rangoli artworks during Diwali, was snapped by iReporter Digamber Singh Rayamajhi as he walked through the busy streets of Kathmandu, Nepal. "As it is Diwali time the roads were bustling with people coming to shop," he says. "There were lot of little street shops on the pedestrian foot paths selling candles, colors, spices. I thought it looked beautiful and I just clicked few pics through my cell phone."
The colors of Diwali
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Your Diwali shots from around the world Your Diwali shots from around the world

"We have scheduled breakfasts, lunches and dinners -- I never knew how exhausting it was on my parents until I became one myself," he said. "But I enjoyed it as a kid and would love my children to have the same pleasures. After all it's only three days, better make the best of them and make each day count!"

The wearing of new clothes and looking one's best for the festivities can, for women, extend to the hennaing of hands -- a ritual captured by Laurens Meulman while visiting Agra, home of the iconic Taj Mahal in India.

"The henna-painted hands of one of the women in the group caught my eye and I asked her if I could to take a photo," Meulman said. Though not Muslim herself, she says the holiday always reminds her of "good food, sweets, sharing, being with family and generosity. "

In Malaysia, family preoccupied the thoughts of Dina Syazwani Sipal Anuwar, a 24-year-old teacher from Selangor who sent in an image via Instagram of her family in matching colored clothes celebrating Eid last year.

The photo is particularly poignant for Dina as it was the last Eid her father, Sipal, a policeman, was able to spend with his family before he unexpectedly passed away in January.

"I think it was one of the signs that father would leave us, the last Eid we could take a perfect photo as a whole family," she said.

CNN Celebrates: View all Eid photos on iReport

Respect and appreciation for others was also on the mind of graphic designer Anupama Kinagi in Mumbai, India, when he captured this affectionate moment outside a mosque in the city and related a poignant custom put on by local authorities.

I enjoyed it as a kid and would love my children to have the same pleasures. After all it's only three days
Yassir O. Nassif

He said that the police officer outside the mosque "especially arranges for rose flowers to greet Muslims outside on this special day," he says. "Muslims accept their wishes and thank them for their extraordinary service."

Of course, after a month of fasting, food takes center stage. Libyan-American Sammi Addahoumi, currently spending his summer in the Libyan city of Benghazi, satisfies his sweet tooth with delicious sweets made in a local bakery.

Kunafah are mouth-watering Arabic sweets extremely popular during Eid. It has several variations according to the part of the Middle East where it is served. All have one thing in common -- they are delicious.

"Whether stacked or braided, stuffed with nuts or cream, it's always saturated for a period of time in syrup before it is ready for the public," he said.

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