Eid-ul-Adha means much more than a day off

Are you looking for a break from the seemingly insurmountable stress that steps in the way of every new academic year? Well, how about taking a day off to celebrate Eid-ul-Adha?

Eid-ul-Adha is one of the two major Eids that Muslims, both Sunni and Shi’a alike, celebrate all around the world. Fortunately, Eid-ul-Adha falls about a month after school starts in late July; however, a couple of years down the line the festivities will be celebrated during summer vacation because the Islamic Calendar is based on the lunar cycle; as a result, both Eids are celebrated around 10-11 days earlier than the year before, leaving tons of people with no justification to take a day off early in the year. This year Eid was celebrated on the Aug. 22 in India.

Although the festival lasts up to four days in many countries around the world, just one day of Mutton Biryani, Coca-Cola, and Eidi (a gift, usually money, elders give to children) proved restful enough. However, there are more important traditions of Eid-al-Adha which hold even greater meaning, and the two major ones are worship and sacrifice.

This year, like previous years, a few Woodstock Muslims students took a day off from school and celebrated Eid in the bazaar with locals. We started the day by taking a shower and putting on new traditional clothes, such as the Kurta and Pyjama for men in many parts of India, and spray perfume. Then, we gathered at the mosque to pray a special prayer and listened to a sermon. This act of getting together regardless of color or social status highlights one of the major purposes of Eid as a time when people drop their stereotypes and celebrate to grow closer as a community.

When the sermon ended we, non-Muslims and Muslims alike, hugged each other as we shared greetings of ‘Eid Mubarak,’ “Eid” meaning “celebration” and “Mubarak” meaning “blessed.”

Soon after, people could be seen buying sweets in sweets shops as they made it to their own homes to take part in the highlight of Eid-ul-Adha, the long-held tradition, known as Qurbani, of sacrificing an animal (usually goats, lambs or buffaloes). This sacrifice commemorates Prophet (Abraham) Ibrahim’s (peace be upon him) willingness to give up his son as a sacrifice to satisfy the will of God; however, as Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) was about to sacrifice his son, an angel replaced the son with a ram for the sacrifice. And that’s why Eid-ul-Adha translates to “Festival of Sacrifice” in English.

The meat of the animal sacrificed is divided into three parts, one third is donated to the poor or underprivileged as food, the other third is shared amongst relatives and friends (both Muslims and non-Muslims), while the final third is turned into tasty local traditional cuisines and is thoroughly enjoyed by the young and old of the family that sacrificed the animal.

In India, many Muslims enjoy Mutton Biryani (a variation of the famous Biryani, consisting of rice and marinated mutton), with Naan-Korma (oven-baked bread with curd stirred Mutton) or Kebabs, while Kheer (rice pudding made with sugar and milk) satisfies people with a sweet-tooth and Coca-Cola takes care of Western guests.

However, since Muslims are found all around the world, celebrations vary from region to region, while sacrifice and charity remain the main purpose.

Ismail Elainain, class of 2019, who is a Palestinian Muslim from Lebanon, talked about the differences between the way Eid is celebrated in Lebanon and here in India.

“The first day is family day, we sacrifice two goats, one for the poor and one we share amongst family and relatives. On the second day, we go down to the main town which is all lit up and meet people we don’t see often,” Elainain said.

Faisal Qadir, a Muslim in Grade 12 from Leh in North India, explained how Eid in Ladakh differs from Eid in many parts of North India.

Instead of wearing Kurta Pyjama, Faisal said he wears his traditional Ladakhi Goncha which is more like a “robe with a waist belt.”

Furthermore, Qadir said, “The first day we stay at home, lots of neighbors visit us and we eat meat; Kanti, pan-fried meat, while the leftover meat is frozen for winters in a room [that is kept cold enough by the winter of Ladakh]. The next day we visit relatives and neighbors.”

Despite the differences in celebration, the core meaning of Eid remains the same globally.

“As I’ve grown up, I see all my relatives distancing, now we meet only on Eid, modern life is so fast paced we don’t get time [to meet each other often],” Qadir said.

Furthermore, Qadir said that “festivals such as Eid are pillars for the community of Ladakh because its community has Christians, Buddhists, and Muslims and such festivals bring them together.”

Elainain also made similar remarks about the way Eid unites his community and helps him build relationships and mend others.

“At the mosque you see all the women and men praying together, it makes you feel thankful for your community. No matter how frustrated or angry you are, a simple ‘Eid Mubarak’ heals you, and I also meet new people and old friends, I always fix tensions between me and my friends on Eid,” Elainain said.

Elainain also discussed how the festival, the purpose, of Eid, can help transform the stereotypical image of Muslims as “terrorists” in many parts of the world to one of “respectful and open-minded.”

Elainain said, “If the media dig deep enough and visit [festivals such as Eid] then their views of Muslims will change. They will see that Muslims are united, caring, and they are open-minded because we’re respectful to women, and other mindsets too.”

So, as Muslims unite to celebrate festivals like Eid-ul-Adha, try to observe how they act and what they do on their holy day. Your perspective might be changed.

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