With the crescent moon sighted and Eid al Adha set to fall on Saturday, shoppers have started thronging markets including the traditional habtas.
In the Sultanate of Oman, the seasonal traditional markets located in the centre of every governorate are the major centres of Eid al Adha purchases thanks to the availability of different sacrificial animals.
These unique open markets turn into a beehive of activities on Eid days as they display other commodities that people need during Eid, including clothing and accessories.
Omani goats, sheep and cows are available in all the Habta markets and normally cost higher compared to the imported livestock, since their meat is very tender and easy to cook.
Animals are also sold in auctions with professional auctioneers overseeing the proceedings.
“If an imported goat can be bought for RO 80, the price of the indigenous one reaches more than RO 150 at least,” said Hameed al Balushi in Ruwi.
The Eid habta, which means coming down to the market in Arabic, said Hameed, is a legacy and Omani tradition that successive generations have preserved. Shopping in this cultural market is a famous tradition for many Omanis.
“Hence, the Eid celebrations are not complete without visiting a Habta market”, he said.
Normally, there is a fixed timing for most of Oman’s Habta markets which start from sunrise to 11 am and sometimes to 1 pm. They also witness great turnout of people since early morning. And these markets are held in open spaces or under the shade of palm trees, mangoes, Ghaf, or near castles and forts.
He said that if people are not happy with the price of an animal at one market, they move from one to the other in the nearby wilayats to search their markets for the best.
“Some people do it to enjoy the atmosphere associated with Habta, such as the sale of sheep, cows and camels at auction”, he said.
These traditional markets also provide an opportunity for breeders to sell their livestock at good prices.
Among the items Omanis are keen to buy at Habta are the local ghee, skewers made of date-palm pinnation and roast bag made from date-palm fronds and wood, knives and tools used for slaughtering and cutting Eid meat, and banana leaves that are used to wrap Shuwaa meat.