‘Eidi’ is usually meant to signify a special sum of money gifted to young family members by parents and older relatives. But eidi doesn’t always have to be a gift of cash. It can also be a trinket, clothes, or any sort of present: something that shows appreciation and love.
Eidi is perhaps one of the most powerful things about the Eid festival. On the surface, it doesn’t make sense for it to be able to incite so much feeling. But there it is. The eager shine in children’s eyes, the shuffling of feet as they shyly receive their money, the crispness of fresh notes from the bank: the tradition of giving and receiving eidi positively teems with the beautiful whimsy of strong, ancient tradition.
Where did this idea come from?
In the early middle ages (909-1171), an ancient Shi’ite Arab dynasty known as the Fatimid Caliphate ruled in Africa and Egypt. Apparently, the concept of eidi can be traced back to this ancient period, when the caliphs would bestow gifts of cash, food, and clothing to their citizens on Eid (source: The National). Now, gift giving has become much less ceremonial. It tends to be a private affair that varies in extravagance and tradition from family to family. For example, most families observe the tradition on Eid-ul-Fitr only, as a way to appreciate children who observed regular fasts in Ramadan.
However, it is clear that eidi need not be reserved for choti Eid only. It is a custom in keeping with the spirit of generosity and togetherness that forms the foundation for both choti and bari Eid. This particular tradition also goes a step further; it is an opportunity for young people to learn how to manage their funds and put some money aside for a rainy day.