A celebration of faith

IT IS A big day. Eid Al Adha, a religious festival celebrated by Muslims worldwide, means different things to different people. For some it brings back childhood memories, for others it is a time of joy and happiness.

By Vijay Dandige (Contributor)

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Published: Wed 19 Dec 2007, 11:09 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 11:55 PM

For Mohammed Al Madani, chairman and CEO of Al Madani Group of companies, it's a time to do penance. 'Eid Al Adha means a lot to me. It’s the time to reconcile and get together and forgive each other, whether it’s between parents and children, husband and wife or between relatives and friends. We’ve a habit to ask forgiveness from each other during the Eid time, so it’s a very special occasion to me and all my family, relatives and friends,' he says.

But for him, it also brings back childhood memories. 'We used to be anxious for months waiting for the Eid because we could collect some pocket cash as Eid gifts, which is still the norm to give new notes to children. Of course during our childhood times it was new coins. Then we’d accompany our parents to visit all the relatives’ houses and enjoyed eating special Eid dishes.'

He says the dishes included Harisa, made from meat and wheat, Khabisa made from cream of wheat (semolina) with sugar, saffron, cardimon, 'Bethith' made from dates and flour and natural fatty oil, 'Thereed' made from curry meat and very thin bread called 'Reqaq', Leqaimat which was very similar look to Gulab Jamun) made from flour, sugar and saffron, and Omani Halwa, 'Aseeda' (flour punckins or carrots sugar, saffron cardimon, and butter).

'As children, to celebrate the Eid we used to go to a place near Dubai Municipality which is now a parking place and Radisson SAS hotel and watch the local dances of 'Ayalah' and Yola, where they threw guns in the air, the same show that has been re-initiated by Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed in the heritage and global village now. The only difference was we used to go walking to all these places from one neighbourhood to another because they were within walking distance,' he recalls.

He says his father had a tailoring shop at Al Ras area where almost all of the locals used to stitch their Eid kandooras. 'There used to be a long queue to pick up their dresses to celebrate the Eid next day. I think we were the first to have home delivery of Kandooras.'

But he rues the changes that have come over the celebrations with the changing of the times. 'Now during Eid holidays a lot of people lose the wisdom of Eid celebration and grab at a chance to travel abroad so they can make use of the holidays. But they miss the joy of celebration to meet and socialise with all the friends and relatives, especially now when it’s becoming very difficult to visit each other owing to the busy working life and getting caught in traffic and the complication of distances between relatives and friends.'

Hasan Ali, businessman, believes that the Eid is a religious day for getting together and cleansing your heart. 'On this day, the tradition is to visit your parents, relatives and friends and get together. Not only your relatives but your wife’s relatives, too. You celebrate the occasion with people, and on the second or third day also take the kids out to dinner, to picnics or whatever.'

On this day, Ali believes in cleaning his heart symbolically and starting a new life. 'Basically you have to forget all the bad things and ask for forgiveness and also forgive people.' Ali is also saddened by the changes. 'So many things have changed. It’s not like before. I’d say the Eid ethos have gone down almost 30 to 40 per cent. The old touch is gone.

For businessman Abdullah Ahmed, a deeply religious man, the Eid symbolises sacrifice. 'This is a big day. This day actually means you have to be in Mecca. But everybody is not fortunate enough to be able to afford to go Mecca. The Haj has started and today is the day of Arafat – the pinnacle of the Haj Pilgrimage.'

He continues, 'So, in essence, you go to your mosque to clean the heart through prayer. Then you come directly home and greet everybody in the family, including the children, 'Kulu aam wa antum bekhair (May the whole year be good for you), which is the equivalent of saying Eid Mubarak. It’s a tradition to also take sweets or dates before the going to the mosque and distribute them afterwards.'

Abdul Rahman Ali, a retired employee looks upon the Eid as a time of joy and happiness, of visiting family, relatives and friends. 'We go for prayer, then go to meet family and friends, everybody is there. So it’s a good time to get together.' To Ali Eid is also a chance to help the poor people. 'You know, you give to poor people: food, clothes, money…according to your capability.'

It’s the same for Ahmed Mohammed, a bank officer. Family gathering, cleaning of heart, visiting old people. 'Eid is a period during which you refresh your relationships with people. So we celebrate by gathering together, ladies with ladies, men with men. And you just don’t meet and visit your own family. You also go and visit your in-laws, also your mother’s family, sharing lunch, sharing dinner etc.' Mohammed also thinks Eid is a time for charity, giving food or money to the poor people.

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