Photos by Salah al Mandhari and Adnan al Bulushi
Muslims are all over the world are celebrating Eid al Adha over three days starting Saturday as the world is slowly coming out of the coronavirus pandemic.
In Oman and the rest of the world, Eid or the festival of sacrifice is back to the good old days with friends and relatives.
Young and old will wear new clothing on the first day after the dawn prayers. They they would have a special meal called Al Hareesa (grounded rice mixed with lamb or chicken).
The Eid prayers are performed in designated mosques or in public places. In olden days, ceremonial gunfire used to mark the beginning of Eid al adha.
Everyone, then, goes to slaughter cattle, camels or sheep. This activity strengthens the bond between Muslims because a huge part of the meat goes to the poor and needy Muslims.
Cutting and distributing the meat, which must be distributed fairly to cover the three main meals of Maqli, Mashakeak and Shuwa, is typically the most challenging aspect of the day.
Meal preparation is an elaborate affair. People gather and cut wood and set it on fire in a pit (locally known as Tannour) to prepare the Shuwa. They would surround the tannour once the wood turns to embers or hot coal and toss the marinated meat wrapped in banana leaves and packed in a bag of palm fronds into the pit.
The Tannour will then be covered with a piece of wood and soil until the morning of the third day of Eid. Everyone will be joyously awaiting the opening of the pit.
Eid Adha in Oman is a colourful affair. People divide household chores to make sure that the celebration is a successful one.
Buying cows or sheep at Al Habta markets are top priorities for men. Habta is a special Omani traditional outdoor market that takes place ahead of Eid. It gathers all festival essentials in one place making it easier to find what one needs to not only cook but also to decorate the house. It will also have clothes, toys, Omani Halwa, utensils. It, therefore, witnesses a great turnout of people of all ages.
Omanis also do habta-hopping where they visit one habta after another from one wilayat to another. On the sidelines of these markets, shows of horses and camels are held.
Women make sweets and halwa and distribute them among neighbors and relatives. This is an integral part of Eid culture. They also make sure that coffee, dates, spices and nuts are sufficient to treat their friends and relatives who come to visit.
Some people may travel long distances to attend the family gatherings. They are aware of how special these moments are and how much fun they have with their family. This year, the the reunions are special without the curbs on social distancing and gatherings.
For children, Eidiya is the most anticipated custom of Eid. Children gather on the day of Eid to recieve money from their parents, relatives and grandparents. The word Eidiya is derived from the word Eid, meaning giving or kindness. This Arab-Islamic custom dates back to centuries.
The performance of folk dance like Al Razha is another highlight of the festival.