A time to share
August 8, 2019 | 10:37 AM
by Gautam Viswanathan

Eid is just around the corner, and both Omanis and expats alike are gearing up for what promises to be an auspicious, memorable celebration in Oman.

While some will stay and enjoy the long holiday in Oman, others have already made plans to travel overseas to see their extended families and friends.

Irrespective of where people go and with whom they celebrate Eid, one thing is clear. No matter where we come from, everyone celebrates Eid in the same manner, as people come together to share in the joy and good fortune of this festival, showing all of us once again how shared traditions and cultures help unite us and break down physical barriers.

On the occasion of Eid Al Adha, locals and expats in Oman and the GCC share with us their childhood Eid memories, what is most dear to them now, and what Eid means to them.

Chuck Martini, Head Coach, Muscat Football Academy (British)

How he celebrated Eid as a child

Eid has always been a special occasion in my household. Growing up in the UK, my mother always looked after the traditional and Islamic methods of how Eid was celebrat- ed, although we didn’t always have the traditional sacrificial goat or lamb at home.

This was always a special occasion and we always looked forward to it. Being in a predominantly Chris- tian country, it was difficult to sustain and keep up all the religious and cultural celebrations, but thankfully, my mother did do that and it was great to witness it as a child. I often celebrated it around family, and when I had the chance, we took the opportunity to fly back to the mother nation, Morocco, to celebrate Eid with my entire family.

How he celebrates Eid now

I now have the opportunity to show my children what Eid means to all of us, because we are currently living in Oman, which is an Islamic nation. Here, I can show them how Eid should be celebrated. Over the past five or six years of living in Muscat, we have made a great celebration of it. We brought the goat to the house, but the kids only witnessed the sacrificial slaughter once and then we took it away, because they were a bit scared.

All in all, it is a great occasion, it is a great feast, and it is also a great time to spend with family and friends. Yes, I always look forward to the Eid holidays, and I normally take the children somewhere but this time, Eid coincides with the reopening of Muscat Football Academy so we are back in the country.

His Eid message for everyone

Leaving family and friends behind to celebrate, with just my immediate friends and family here is different, but we are still very much looking forward to it. Eid is a very happy occasion in the Islamic calendar. All must cel- ebrate Eid with a big smile on their face, and the children get to experience different types of food. So it should be a time for you to celebrate and share with your close friends and loved ones.

Syed Jameel, Tournament Coordination, Oman Cricket Association (Pakistani)

How he celebrated Eid as a child

Back in Pakistan, we used to have so many preparations underway for Eid. We were happy because we used to get new clothes and new shoes. The Eidi was also exciting, because that was a matter of suspense for us.

We used to go to our uncle and our grandfathers’ hous- es and looked forward to getting some money as gift. The value of rupee back then was quite a lot and we could buy many things. We used to buy ice cream and eat poori- chole and chaat with our friends. We also used to ask our parents to buy clothes with the remaining amount.

How he celebrates Eid now

When we moved to Oman, the first priority was to allot some time to spend with the family for Eid. Intially I used to travel home on almost every long holiday. Of course, now I am with my family here, so we stay here for Eid.

Here, one day goes towards sacrificing the goat, and we then distribute it to our friends. We then enjoy a barbecue and celebrate with friends and family. Both my daughters have grown up, but my younger daughter has come to Oman with her one-year-old daughter. It is often said that you will love your grandchildren more than your children. There is an amazing feeling when you share love with your children’s children.

His Eid message for everyone

Whenever any festival is celebrated, the message is the same. Don’t trouble each other, share happiness, and help everyone. Everyone must live together with each other, and that is what is happening here in Oman. I have two or three Sri Lankan families near my home and an Egyptian family and an Indian family near us as well.

Whenever there is Diwali, Holi or Christmas, we receive goodies from them, and when it is Eid, we share food with them. So there is a great spirit of community here and that is the way it should be.

Dina al Khalili, Head of Foundation, Al Jisr Foundation (Jordanian)

How she celebrated Eid as a child

I have lived in Oman all my life, so Eid celebrations were mostly here. Most of our celebrations involved expat families like ourselves, but that has gotten more inti- mate over the years. My children now have the best of both worlds because they get to enjoy the rituals and the traditions such as the family lunches with the extended family, not to mention the shuwa, as well as the more intimate celebrations from my side. Because the children are now growing up – they are both seven – we try to spend time together.

How she celebrates Eid now

Last year, we went to Salalah, but this year, we are going to Jordan, because my children have never seen my side of the family, with the exception of their grandparents. They will be meeting a lot of relatives for the first time. I am definitely looking forward to introducing new tradi- tions in their lives.

They are worried about how long they are going to spend there. We will be there for about two weeks, god willing, and this their first time to Jordan. My children are half-Omani because my husband is Omani, but this is the first time they are going to see a lot of people from my side of the family. They are going to be meeting their extended cousins. Everyone knows who they are, but they don’t know a lot of the people.

Her Eid message for everyone

Eid is about celebrating with the family, and I found it to be the same in Jordan as it is in Oman. It is about

being with the family. I wish to say Eid Mubarak to eve- ryone and I ask that all of you spend quality time with your family.

Fahad al Abri, The Handstand Man (Omani)

How he celebrated Eid as a child

During Eid we would wake up in the morning and do the morning prayers or the Fajr. Then we would go to slaughter a goat, which was done at home. My brothers and I were taught this by my father. Omanis are normally taught to do this by a member of the family, so when I was younger, we got to practice such things. We continue to follow the same practice even today.

We also donate one of the goats to the poor people. My family buys two goats, we keep one for the shuwa and we donate the second one to the needy. We buy them three weeks before the event. Some families buy them just before the slaughtering as well, but this depends on the ability of the family.

How he celebrates Eid now

Some families have farms in the interior regions so they will bring the goats from their farms to Muscat, or they will buy it from Muscat and keep them for about two weeks. The two most important things are the Eid prayer and the sacrifice, because Eid Al Adha is the Eid of sacrifice. The early part of the day sees us celebrate with the family. The men would be slaughtering the goat and the women would be cooking. Everyone has a duty. We all help prepare the lunch and this is often done in the biggest house in town. In the evenings, we spend our time with friends.

His Eid message for everyone

This Eid Al Adha, I would like to ask people to remember the importance of family, because these days, we seem to spend less time with our loved ones because we have so many other commitments. So my message would be to not take these family ties for granted but actually value them.

Suhail Khan, Entertainment Secretary, Indian Social Club (Indian)

How he celebrated Eid as a child

I have wonderful memories of Eid as a child. We come from a joint family, so we all lived in my grandmother’s house, and we had an open area, where we all celebrated together. My first memories involve getting ready for the morning prayers and putting on the Eid pyjamas. We used to walk to the Eidgah together, and the prayers for Eid Al Adha often traditionally finished earlier so that we could take part in the traditional sacrifice.

The festivities would begin a few days earlier, and we would buy grass to feed the lambs, because the lambs have to be well fed. We would be unable to sleep the entire night because they would be bleating all night. All of us would attend the sacrifice together, but none of us would get any gifts as a custom because the money would be spent in buying the lambs.

We would immediately cook some of that meat and have breakfast, and we then gave away one-third of that meat to the relatives and another one-third to the poor. There would be a line of people outside our house, and my grandmother would portion this meat into small packets and we would give it to the needy. Then we had the customary visit to our aunts’ houses, so we gave them these portions as well.

We would take a car, put all the food behind and go from house to house to distribute the meat. Evening was meant for the big feast. My mother, aunts and grandmother would make Hyderabadi biryani, and the best part of that was the raan or the spiced goat meat. We would also get a lot of food from the other households, so the feast would go on for at least three days.

On the third day, we would make special dry kebabs that would easily last for months. They would cut the meat, add spices, make it and hang it to dry. That could be stored for about six months without spoiling. We would have about 30 to 40 people in our household. It was my grandfathers’ house, and all of our families had a portion in the bungalow.

How he celebrates Eid now

Now, the bungalow has been divided into multiple houses, but we all meet together and my father is now the head of the family. We have a custom of celebrating Eid together. I have practically never spent any Eid in Oman despite being here for 22 years. Eid every year is celebrat- ed at home.

His Eid message for everyone

Eid is a special occasion and my father had told me clearly that if I wasn’t able to come home even for Eid, then there was no point living elsewhere. What we still look forward to is mother’s biryani, the raan or the leg of lamb, on the third day we look forward to kebabs, all that are traditionally made. Eid is a time for sacrifice so may God accept all the sacrifices we have made throughout the year. May peace prevail, and Eid Mubarak to all of us.

Sadat Shakil, Oman Airports Management Company (Pakistani)

How he celebrated Eid as a child

For me, Eid has always been about friends and family, and of course, the food! I grew up here in Oman and would re- ally look forward to my mum’s goat liver curry, which she made for me every Eid. Ideally, you are supposed to share it with everyone, but since I was the youngest I would eat most of it myself. It was fresh-cooked liver. It was special for me because it was very delicious. My mother would make it specially for me.

How he celebrates Eid now

I am planning to go to Pakistan this Eid. We have planned something special. We are planning a family gathering, and this will involve the entire extended family which is about 300 people.

Of course, that has significantly changed over time, because now I have a family of my own, and this time, we will be going to Pakistan as a family to introduce my baby daughter to my extended family for the first time. It is her first ever Eid Al Adha and we are all very excited because this is a very special moment.

His Eid message for everyone

All of the family in Pakistan would be really excited to see us. I would be returning to Oman after 10 days so we all are looking forward to it. This Eid, many people in Oman will be travelling to the interiors to see their family, so I would ask them to drive safely. Please enjoy the day, eat well, and Eid Mubarak to everyone.

Lana al Wreikat, UNICEF Representative to Oman (Jordanian)

How she celebrated Eid as a child

When I was a child, Eid was always a special day to cel- ebrate with family. Jordanian traditions are quite similar to the Arabian and the Omani traditions that we have here. For Eid, we would make a special Jordanian coffee that is very similar to Omani kahwa, and we would simi- larly serve these in small cups to friends and family.

On the first day, we would travel to my grandfathers’ farm with my uncle and the rest of the family. As chil- dren, what really attracted us to Eid were the chocolates and sweets. In Jordan, our speciality is a ma’amoul filled with dates and pistachios, so as children, when we woke up in the morning to the smell of this coffee and the aroma of the ma’amoul, we knew something special was happening.

A big part of our Eid celebrations was the traditional sacrifice. We were brought up in a way that reminded us to think of the needy, so we would give them a portion of our food. The first day of Eid was a special day reserved for family, and we had all of the traditional Jordanian foods, such as the mansaf, which is a specialty of our country.

On the other three days of Eid, we would meet our friends and our relatives, and because we were children, a big part of Eid was looking forward to the Eidi, the money that we would receive from our relatives. We used to make big plans with this money. We used to share some of this money with the poor as well.

How she celebrates Eid now

As an adult, I realise that Eid Al Adha is about sacrifice. We must understand and be grateful for what we have and look after the poor and the needy. Eid is about good fortune and we must share it with those who are not so fortunate.

Every Eid, we make it a point, as family, to come to one place and meet and spend time with each other. Since my extended family is currently spread all over the world, so we pick one location. Last year, it was Oman, so the entire family was here, and they really loved the country. To meet every year like this is part of our family plan.

Her Eid message for everyone

While we are very fortunate to celebrate Eid, there are some who are not as lucky as we are. There are many young children and their families in conflict zones in the world, and they don’t get to share these experiences. If you look at places like Syria or Yemen, or even places of conflict outside our Arab region, then this is something of which the children are being deprived.

UNICEF has always aimed to promote a stable environ- ment so that children and their families can enjoy these occasions and can celebrate with each other in peace.

Rabiah Mian, Writer (British)

How she celebrated Eid as a child

As a child I’ve mostly spent my Eid in the United Arab Emirates. It was spent with family, so we used to get excited buying new clothes, shoes and goodies and then on the day of Eid, we’d wake up really early morning and receive our Eid gifts from the family and then we’d get to eat a lot of delicious desserts.

The exciting thing back then was that we used to do all of this with our family friends, because we used to live in the same area. It was like a villa compound. We used to go around all dressed up, so we would have a fantastic time and it was all very memorable. In the mornings, we would go around and peep into the kitchen to see what food and what sweets were cooking.

During the evenings, we would really look forward to the money that we received from our elders, and then at night, we’d be busy counting how much we got and we’d compare that with our cousins and siblings. We’d also go to the salons and get henna applied on our hands. Back then, it was more about dressing up and enjoying the festivities.

How she celebrates Eid now

As an adult, the concept of Eid has changed slightly, because yes, we do look forward to the festivities, buy new clothes, dress up and put henna on our hands, but I think for me, the focal point of Eid is celebrating with friends. It is not as closely-knit as it used to be, because as adults, we have all sort of drifted apart and gone our own ways.

But what really matters is that we are still with our families and celebrating with them. Now we buy gifts for the young ones, so it is more about giving than it is about taking.

Her Eid message for everyone

Eid has always stood for peace, harmony and unity. It is about forgiving and looking at the bright side, rather than holding in your heart trivial issues. It is about understanding the spirit behind Eid, and the unity of the festival. It is a very open kind of festival because it includes everyone.

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