Eid al-Adha comes to most of the world on Sunday July 9, and this Eid brings back childhood memories of fun, family, joy and blessings. The night before this Eid was always very special as we gathered around a firepit and told stories. It was common for boys to have a haircut the night before. Each year it was a new hairstyle, the last one I remember was the drop low fade often copying superstar soccer players. So, Eid al-Adha was not only a sacrifice of animals, but it was also a time of caring for one another and sharing meals and stories.
Girls, on the other hand, would line up for the intricate henna design on their hands and legs. The strong smell of henna is one that I can still smell in my memories. It has been over a decade since I left Somalia and I may have forgotten certain smells and memories, but not this one. As I sit here on my porch in Yarmouth, Maine, thousands of miles from where I grew up and where my memories of Eid began, I feel this strong nostalgia and feeling a vacuum as my closest family members are not here. Regardless, as I have always done, I will have a haircut at my favorite barber shop here in Maine and pray Eid outdoors with thousands of people, and probably eat some meat with friends. But the smell of the henna and spicy food is missing, and Eid is never complete without it as well as the “takbeer”—a call to the Eid prayer at dawn which rings on all loudspeakers in mosques. The takbeer could be heard from all over the city.
Here in the U.S. The community volunteers hand out fresh orange juice as we prepare for the morning Eid prayers, then people quietly leave after the prayers and drive to their houses to eat. In Mogadishu, the feast often happened at the mosque where meat and rice were shared because this is the Eid for feasting on meat and vegetables for most families. Lunch always consists of aromatic Biryani rice with different spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, cumin and ginger often served with goat meat or beef. The Biryani was only a once-a-year occasion and every one of my friends had the most excited face as we sat down to feast. In the evening after resting from a day of feasting, we often got a cup of spicy Somali tea around the firepit, and we told more stories and stayed up late at nights playing games such as hide and seek.
While Eid is a public holiday for most Muslim-majority countries, it is not a holiday in the United States–except that this one happens to be on a weekend, and that is extra special joy. Unlike the last Eid, Eid al-Fitr, this Eid will bring together thousands to the early morning prayers, and friends will invite their friends for a meal and wish one another “Eid Mubarak.” Gift sharing is common during this Eid; you may share gifts and cards with your neighbors or friends who celebrate Eid.
This Eid often continues for at least three days. If you can’t celebrate on the first day, you have the next two days to be with the Muslim community for Eid celebrations. In the meantime, you may use your social media pages to write “Eid Mubarak” to the Muslims throughout the world to wish them a healthy and happy Eid.