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Chinese Muslims Celebrate End of Ramadan
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Millions of Muslims across China celebrated Eid al-Fitr on Monday, the festival that marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.


About 1,000 Muslims, wearing festive costumes and white skullcaps, celebrated the festival in Xihuan Mosque in Yinchuan, capital of northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.


It is customary for Muslims to visit one another's homes during the festival.


Government department employees were given the day off.


In addition to feasting and celebrating, Muslims regard the festival as an opportunity to educate their children.


When Ma Fangzhou, a primary school student, entered his grandfather's house, he first paid his respects to his grandfather and other elders present before running outside to play with his cousins.


"My father told me to watch closely and do what he does when he performs rituals," Ma said. He took part in a memorial ceremony for his ancestors with his parents before giving alms.


"The fast-breaking festival is a great opportunity for parents to teach their children," according to Ma Songhua, an official in charge of mosque affairs in the region.


The festival can be used to teach children filial piety and charity, Ma said.


Misunderstandings among friends or conflicts between neighbors are forgotten on this day. Everyone starts on a new foot in a harmonious atmosphere, he added.


Muslims in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and other provinces also celebrated the festival.


During Ramadan, the ninth month of the year in the Muslim calendar, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. But children, the elderly and the infirm do not have to observe the fast.


There are about 20 million Muslims in China, nearly half of whom belong to the Hui ethnic group.


(Xinhua News Agency October 25, 2006)

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