This is an Islamic festival commemorating the birthday of Prophet Mohammad and is generally observed every year on the 12th day of the Rabi al – awwal which is the third month based on the Islamic Calendar for the Sunni sect of Muslims and the 17th of the same month for the Shia sect.

Also known by the names, Donba, Gani, this 12th day is the most widely accepted date of birth of Muhammad from a list of various birth dates. It’s recognized as a gazette national holiday in nearly all of the Muslim-majority countries including countries like India and except ones like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Muhammad was believed to be the last prophet of Islam born in the year 570 of the Gregorian calendar. Islamic stores, schools and business organizations are kept closed partially or for the whole day as most denominations of Islam take part in the celebrations.

In the year 2017, Milad Ul Nabi will start from the hour of sunset on the 1st of December till the nightfall of 2nd December for the Sunni Muslims and for the Shias, it will occur from the sunset of 6th December till the nightfall of 7th December.

Origin
The origin of this festival can be traced back to the period of the earliest four Rashidun Caliphs of Islam. The birth of Muhammad had taken place in Mecca which is now known as Saudi Arabia however his exact date of birth is debatable.
 

Milad un-Nabi/ Eid-e-Milad

Milad un-Nabi/ Eid-e-Milad

That’s the reason the Sunni sect of Muslims and the Shia sect celebrates it on different dates. The term “Mawlid” is used to refer to the birthday of both the Prophet as well as local Sufi saints in countries like Egypt and Sudan. The birthdays of about 3000 Sufi Saints are celebrated. The word “Mawlid” or “Milad” is derived from the Arabic word for birth and is usually used to indicate to Prophet Muhammad’s birthday. This was declared as an official holiday in 1588 by the Ottomans.

Celebration
On this day, people read out the Hadith i.e. the narrations describing the life and deeds of Prophet Muhammad as well as the teachings and events in his life to enlighten followers. There are large street parades in some countries with religious singing and homes of Muslims and mosques are also brightly lit and decorated.

Some people tend to donate food and clothes to beggars on this day to earn merit. Many families have get – together where the younger members of the family or the kids read out poems based on events in Muhammad’s life. Many Muslims abstain from celebrating this occasion considering it an unnecessary religious observance and may spend greater time in reading the Koran on this day. Muhammad is believed to be born on a Monday and due to this fact, some people keep a fast during the daylight hours on Monday.