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Tradition of ‘habta’ markets comes alive

The markets attract shoppers from different parts of the country to purchase livestock, clothes, eateries and sweets
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MUSCAT: The Sultanate of Oman is abuzz with ‘habtas’ (weekly markets) in several wilayats which are common during Eid for the purchase of livestock and other commodities.

The Eid 'habta', which is a legacy that successive generations have preserved, is a long-standing Omani tradition that Omanis look forward to visiting the market in the last ten days of Ramadhan in preparation for Eid.

It is always the practice for citizens to visit 'habta' markets to purchase local livestock, clothes, and a variety of eateries and sweets. It also provides an opportunity for children to witness authentic Omani traditions.

Hamad al Musallami from Sinaw told the Observer that 'habta' in his area attracts shoppers from different parts of the country to purchase sheep, cows and camels. "This is in addition to the basic needs that people need during Eid including clothes," he said.

Mohammed al Balushi from Seeb described going to 'habtas' as a special moment. “There is always a wide choice of livestock during Eid habtas, which often leads to good bargains," he said.

Eid 'habta' is a unique seasonal market for local goods and products, such as clothes, spices, fruits and vegetables, and toys.

Interestingly, the 'habta' markets also witness an old custom called 'Al munadah' (auction) in which livestock are sold to the highest bidder. “This tradition has continued as it is part of Omani heritage,” said Khalfan al Khaldi from Al Amerat.

Habtas are a memorable experience for Omanis, but more so for children who revel in choosing games, garments and sweets such as halwa. The markets come alive just days before Eid, providing all the items needed for these religious holidays.

Yahya Rashid, a retired private sector employee, says, “Habta is a unique seasonal market not only for adults but children too. In addition to local goods such as clothes, spices, fruits, and vegetables, there are also toys for children. Before every Eid, I take my children to these habtas. It is also a learning experience for them. They get to learn more about traditions.``

Normally, there is a fixed timing for most of the Habta markets which starts from sunrise till 11 am and sometimes until 1 pm. They also witness a huge turnout of people since early morning. These markets are held in open spaces or under the shade of palm trees, mangoes, Ghaf, or near castles and forts.

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