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Expats prepare for low-key Eid celebrations

10 May 2021 By MOHAMMED TAHA

Eid celebrations vary from country to country. Expatriates in Oman celebrate the festival by adhering to their respective customs and traditions. But the common theme – friends and families coming together to celebrate the joyous occasion – will be missing this year yet again. 

Eid al Fitr is a three-day-long festival and is known as the ‘lesser’ or ‘Smaller Eid’ when compared to Eid al Adha, which is four days long and is known as the ‘Greater Eid’.

The faithful gather for a special morning prayer on the first day of Eid al Fitr, greeting each other ‘Eid Mubarak’ with formal embraces. Sweet dishes are prepared at home and gifts are given to children and to those in need. 

Speaking to Muscat Daily, Hesham Talaat, an Egyptian expat, said, “Right now, the world is going through a challenging and difficult period. The pandemic has affected a lot of customs and traditions that are usually followed on Eid. Under this lockdown, celebrations will be without friends and family to avoid health risks. 

“I will avoid social visits and instead I’ll organise virtual parties and connect through various online platforms or social media and have a chat with friends and family members.”

Talaat added that one of the best ways to beat the gloom is to give his house a festive look. 

“I will decorate my house, pray with my family, eat our favourite Egyptian dishes, and engage in some joyful activities with the children to make them feel happy and forget the absence of friends and relatives.”

For Indian expat Muneer Thazhe Purayil, Eid celebrations aren’t complete without preparing special food and enjoying it with family and friends and taking a trip to one of the tourist spots in Oman. However, this year things are different, he said. 

“We are all going through the toughest situation in our life which demands us to stay at home and save our lives and of others. Therefore, this year I am going to celebrate Eid by staying at home and preparing Indian biriyani and some sweet. I am going to meet my friends and family members through Zoom and we are going to enjoy it by giving our kids an opportunity to show their talent in several cultural activities.”

Purayil added that he finds this year’s Eid even more difficult than last year as all the commercial activities are closed.

“Our movement is limited, which demands us to celebrate within the walls of our home and join in the virtual celebration on social media.”

Ilhan Ahmed, a restaurateur from Turkey, expressed his sadness at the lack of traditional celebrations this year. Turkish people are accustomed to enthusiastic Eid celebrations, characterised by big family gatherings, a ritual that dates back all the way to the Ottoman era.

In normal circumstances, markets would be full of excited parents and happy children, and people would indulge in typical Eid shopping. But this time around, due to the pandemic, the traditionally festive Eid mood is different, he said. “We are an emotional nation. We love to meet friends as a family. But this pandemic has separated people from each other, disrupting our social and psychological balance. I will feel something dearly missing at the time of the Eid.”

He said he will use video calls to exchange Eid greetings with his parents, and other loved ones.

“I hope and pray that we’ll never celebrate another Eid under lockdown.”

According to Fawzi Abu Hadid, a Tunisian and an imam at a mosque in Muscat, the pandemic might have curtailed visits and prevented families from gathering, but it does not prevent celebrations and spreading joy within the families. 

“I will celebrate with my family in my house, then offer the Eid prayer and greet each other on the happy occasion, praying to God Almighty to lift the affliction from us and end the pandemic for us to return to our normal lives,” he said.

“After the prayer, the family would gather at the dining table to relish the famous Tunisian foods and sweets and reminisce the days of Eid that we used to spend in Tunisia.”

 

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