Eid Al Adha, pronounced EED al-UHD-huh, is an Islamic holiday that takes place on the 10th day of the last month of the Islamic Lunar Calendar. It is directly translated as the “Celebration of Sacrifice” and is a representation of events written about in the Quran. Along with Eid al-Fitr it is one of a pair of Islamic holidays celebrated around the world each year. In this article, we’ll discuss the styles, foods, and traditions that make this holiday unique and wonderful.
Performing the Eid prayer is the biggest event of the day, with people gathering in a large field (Eidgah) or at their local mosque. Everyone wants to look their best and it is not uncommon for both children and adults to have new outfits that they wear on Eid for the first time. Because many Muslim women wear hijabs and modest clothing, accessorizing with some jewelry is an additional way to express themselves. It is not uncommon for jewelry to be given as a gift for the holiday.
Okay, so let’s talk about the animal sacrifices that are performed on Eid al-Adha. There is a tradition for Eid al-Adha which involves slaughtering an animal (usually a camel, goat, cow, sheep, or ram depending on the region) and sharing the meat in three equal parts – for family, for relatives and friends, and for poor people. The goal is to make sure every Muslim gets to eat meat. And we’re talking about a lot of meat. In Pakistan alone nearly ten million animals are sacrificed on Eid days.
However, not everyone sacrifices animals. The spirit of Eid al-Adha is simply about sacrificing something for the betterment of others. This sacrifice can be something other than an animal such as money or time spent on community service. As many Muslims are no longer in the practice of raising animals, these types of sacrifices have become less common in Western society, with more people choosing other options. Charity is also a big part of the holiday and it is customary to donate a significant sum of money to charity, to be used to help the poor purchase new clothes and food, so they too may join in on the celebrations
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Unlike with many other holidays, the celebration of Eid al-Adha is fairly straightforward and doesn’t vary greatly from country to country. There are however a few exceptions. For example, in India and the Ukraine, the use of balloons is included and children can be seen playing with them after the adults have conducted their Eid prayers. In more rural areas, such as in Nairobi and other countries, aid organizations often bring the sacrificed animal meat to the less fortunate Muslims on Eid.
Following the Eid prayer, people gather with their friends and family to enjoy each others company and exchange gifts. Lanterns, strand lights and lamps are hung up throughout the streets as they symbolize the bright and joyful nature of the celebration. Special sweets, including ma’amoul (filled shortbread cookies) and samosas, are examples of some of the foods that are traditionally served.