By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS
The celebration of the â€˜breaking of the fastâ€™ called Eid-al-Fitr is upon us as the Holy Month of Ramadan draws to a bittersweet close. No sooner did the month begin than it is ending much to the sadness of many a Muslim. The only consolation can be found in the celebratory holiday of Eid-al-Fitr, which lasts for 3 days in the Gulf. Every country in the Middle East celebrates Eid in a different way, which is based on cultural norms that have existed for centuries. Itâ€™s a given that, across the region, Muslims go to the Mosque as the first order of business to pray the Eid prayer on the first day of Shawwal and give alms to the poor. But after that the celebrations bare little resemblance to one another.
In Turkey, the Eid celebrations are referred to as Bayram. The primary focus on Eid is visiting graveyards to pay respects to the deceased members of the family. Muslims often visit the graves of their loved ones decorating them with flowers and praying beside them. Families also visit their elderly relatives to congratulate them and show their respect. Children often run around their neighborhood knocking on their neighborâ€™s doors wishing them a happy holiday. In return, they are often rewarded with sweets or some coins.
In Palestine, the scene is sadly similar, Eid often coincides with a funeral for many families or maybe even a neighbor. The joyous occasion of Eid is turned into a day of mourning. Due to abject poverty as a result of the never-ending occupation, many Palestinians cannot afford the traditional Eid fare such as new clothes, crisp money and sweets to give their children. However, many Palestinians make do with what they have and are grateful for it. Palestinians visit each other and the staples of Arabic coffee and sweets are offered to guests. Kids light firecrackers for most of the day and carnival stalls are set up in the streets each featuring a unique game of skill or chance.
In Dubai, luxury is the order of the day. Forget that everyone and his brother have been shopping nonstop running up until the start of Eid, now the government of Dubai has launched a new shopping festival. Itâ€™s called â€œEid in Dubaiâ€ and its initial launch this very Eid is meant to attract UAE residents as well as other denizens of the Gulf, however by next year the aim will be to attract global tourists. Special events, activities, concerts and sale promotions will be the order for many Muslims either living or visiting Dubai.
For Jordan, nothing denotes the Eid holidays have arrived more than the sweet scent of Mamool, or date cakes, rising from the oven and transcending every nook and cranny of the home. Jordanians put family first and spend the Eid holidays rotating from house to house starting with the elders first and descending to the rest of the family members. A feast is also prepared with members of the same tribe attending where mamool, chocolate and Arabic coffee take center stage.
Cruising Gulf Road, visiting amusement parks and attending family picnics is how both residents and citizens of Kuwait spend the Eid holidays. The roads resemble a huge snake of metal during Eid with many families stuck in traffic for at least a quarter of the holiday. For many, staying in Kuwait is not an option during Eid and they fly out on the earliest flight they can get to the UK or another destination.
For Iraqis, yet again, Eid comes during wartime when sectarian violence is at record highs. Traditionally, families dine on freshly baked bread served with honey and cream. The holiday is spent visiting families and perhaps taking the children to an amusement park, however freedom of movement is limited considering the tumultuous circumstances existing in most cities.
These are just a few â€˜snapshotsâ€™ of Eid celebrations in countries of the Middle East However, irrespective of location, one thing that all Muslims around the World will be doing on Eid is praying that their fast and worship were accepted during this Holy Month as it bids us ado until next year. Inshaâ€™Allah.