Eid al Adha

My sister Zakia and I on the first day of Eid

My sister Zakia and I on the first day of Eid

Well after ten days off, its time to get back to school! We were off from school for Eid al Adha, the annual holiday commemorating Abrahams sacrifice of Ishmael, so I haven’t had Internet in awhile. The holiday is actually only three days but if you count the two weekends plus the fact that everyone takes off a few days before, it starts to add up.

Eid happens twice a year, once in the summer in the week following Ramadan and once in the fall, at the same time as the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. Eid is a time of celebration and is centered on spending time with family. We visited countless family members and every meal was eaten with a large gathering of relatives. Many people who live in the city also go visit family in their native villages further inland but my family didn’t. They told me they don’t like the village very much and try not to go if they can avoid it, which was fine by me. According to my friends who have gone with their families, the conditions aren’t always great although some of the villages are really beautiful.

 

Eating lunch with family during Eid

Eating lunch with family during Eid

The men having lunch. Men and women always eat in separate rooms.

The men having lunch. Men and women always eat in separate rooms.

One common practice that we did do was exchange aydiya. Aydiya is money that adults hand out to children throughout the holiday and kids go around from house to house wishing people a happy Eid and gathering 100-baiza notes (about 25 cents) kind of like Halloween. Typically the older you are the more money you get and I managed to collect almost six rial, which is about 15 dollars! Of course its all in 100-baiza notes so its not the most space-efficient since there are 1,000 baiza in every rial, but the coffee machine at school only takes baiza so I can definitely put them to good use.

It is also customary to buy new clothes for Eid and everyone gets very dressed up. It was amazing to see the women in their sparkly traditional dresses and men in their new dishdashas or traditional robes. Even the babies get new clothes and the infants in dishdashas were some of the cutest things I have ever seen. I also saw a little girl and her mother wearing the same dress which was adorable and reminded me of the American Girl Doll magazines that sold outfits in both doll and people sizes.

My father and brother in dishdashas

My father and brother in dishdashas

Eid is all about family but it is also equally about food. There are tons of foods prepared just for Eid, including tons of desserts. My host mother made dozens of oval shaped cookies filled with chocolate icing, called “camel eyes” and one of the most addicting things I have ever tasted. Another traditional dish is shuwa, meat that is seasoned, wrapped in banana leaves (or tin-foil in the modern adaptation) and then slow cooked in a hole in the ground for two days. Although I still am a vegetarian I was persuaded to try some and I have to admit it was delicious! I felt like I couldn’t miss out on something that is only prepared once a year and the looks on the faces of the relatives in the room as I had my first bite was priceless.

My aunt preparing food for Eid

My aunt preparing food for Eid

Another central part of Eid is the ritual slaughter, in commemoration of Abrahams sacrifice. It is customary for each family to slaughter an animal, and my family did participate in this tradition. But that really deserves its own blog post so more on that later!

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. POppa
    Oct 20, 2013 @ 21:53:14

    Miriam,
    I am afraid I would gain a great deal of weight eating all of these fabulous dishes but mainly the deserts and camel eyes cookies. Assuming that goat tastes like lamb(does it?) I am sure it would become a favorite. I plan on researching EID and what it represents. We just read about the binding of Isaac last Shabbat, so I am most interested in this. Just the history major(and religion minor) in me!
    Hope getting back to school is not like starting all over.
    Love,
    Poppa

    Reply

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