With the third largest Muslim Population after Indonesia and Pakistan, India celebrates Muslim festivals with full enthusiasm. Eid ul Zuha or Bakr Eid is one such festival and one of the two Eid festivals celebrated by Muslims all over the world.
Also known as the feast of sacrifice, this Eid is celebrated in the memory of the Prophet Ibrahim, who was asked to sacrifice his son Ismaeel by his Lord. According to Muslim belief, as the great Prophet hastened to obey the command of Allah, it was revealed to him that this was merely a test of his faith and that he could sacrifice a ram instead. The tradition has since then been a part of the Islamic religion and Muslims follow the ritual of sacrifice, also known as Qurbani.
As in the case of other festivals, Eid ul Zuha is also celebrated with the families getting up early in the morning, dressing up in their finest attires and offering congregational prayers in a Mosque or an open area called Eidgah. This particular Eid also coincides with the completion of Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca. Hence, Muslims all over the world make special prayers for peace and prosperity. After the prayer, they greet their family and friends by hugging and wishing them Eid Mubarak (or Happy Eid) and the main ceremony of the festival – “the Qurbani begins”.
Qurbani is the religious rite of slaughtering a domesticated animal as an offering to God. Cows, camels, goats or sheep are sacrificed depending upon the region. In India, the traditional domestic animal that is sacrificed on Eid is a goat or sheep, giving this festival its other name- Bakr Eid. Special cattle fairs are held across the country and the livestock business booms as the festival approaches. People from different economic sects spend according to their ability.
Charity, during this festival is important and people give alms generously to the underprivileged. The Qurbani is divided into three equal portions – one part is kept by the family who sacrificed the animal, one part is sent to relatives and neighbors and the last part is for the needy and the poor. Sharing the blessings is a must on Eid.
Following the charity, special delicacies are prepared and served among family and friends on the occasion. Gifts are also exchanged on this auspicious day.
The Eid is marked by festive markets and food fuelled streets.
Special dishes like snacks, sweets, biryanis, etc are prepared on this festive occasion. One of the most common dishes of Eid that is common in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh is ‘Sevaiyan’; a dish of toasted, fine syrupy vermicelli noodles in the midst of milk and dried fruit.
Families flock to the markets and beautiful henna designs are drawn on the palms of women, mostly young girls who also buy bangles of various colors to go by with their dresses. Children are given Eidi (sum of money) by the older people, in return, salaam is offered by children. Spectacular fireworks on the day of Eid are a feast to the eyes.
Eid ul Adha is indeed a festival of sacrifice, of obedience and warmth and is celebrated with much zeal and zest throughout the country.