In picture: People throng Hazratbal Shrine on Eid Milad-un-Nabi in Srinagar, on December 24, 2015.IANS File Photo

The Central government has changed the holiday for Eid-e-Milad, or Milad-Un Nabi, which was supposed to be on Tuesday, December 13. This is not the first time an Eid date has been changed in India for this year. The dates are often changed because the Islamic calendar follows the lunar cycle, which may vary. 

The Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions has recently issued a statement saying: "All Central government administrative offices located at Delhi/New Delhi shall remain closed on December 12, 2016, on account of Milad-Un-Nabi (in place of December 13, 2016)." Other institutions, like the Supreme Court of India, have also declared that the holiday for Eid-e-Milad will be on Monday, December 12, with December 13 being a working day. 

Subsequently, even the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has announced that the release of inflation data, which was to take place on Monday, has been shifted. "This is to inform that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for November 2016 (Provisional) and October 2016 (Final) would be released on December 13, 2016, as the Milad-Un-Nabi or Id-E-Milad holiday has been decided on December 12 in place of December 13."

Why is Eid-e-Milad celebrated?

Eid-e-Milad or Milad-un-Nabi is observed to mark the birth of Prophet Mohammed. It is also commonly known as Mawlid, and celebrated on different dates of the month of Rabi' al-awwal — the third month of the Islamic calendar — by Shias and Sunnis. 

According to the Sunnis, the prophet's birthday falls on the 12th day of Rabi' al-awwal, which is December 12 this year, because the month began on December 1. According to the Shias, the prophet was born on the 17th day of the month, which will be on December 17 this year. 

Eid-e-Milad is celebrated in almost all Muslim countries across the world, as well as countries that have a significant Muslim population, like India, Nepal and Sri Lanka in Asia, the United Kingdom, Russia, Italy and Germany in Europe, and Canada and the the United States in North America. However, it is forbidden in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.