Sunday 12 October 2014

Celebrating Eid

We were kindly invited to join a local family for the first of four days of Eid al-Adha.The festival of the sacrifice, it might come as a suprise to some Christians and Jews, is a celebration of a story common to all faiths. Eid al-Adha honors the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, as an act of submission to God's command - before God then intervened and provided him with a lamb to sacrifice instead. When we went back to the family home on the first day of Eid, we were met at the door by all the sisters who excitedly showed us around their home. The girls and boys together had scrubbed the house until it was glowing in every room. They pointed out the decorations they had made, of sheep and of the Kaba in Mecca. 
A Quran stood in the corner of the room in a gold box, and on the wall hung a traditional Palestinain emroidered hanging of the 99 names of Allah. They had been baking and preparing for days. The girls wore their most beautiful skirts and hijabs and one of the sisters had woken up with the sunrise to curl her hair, which she showed off only to her family and us girls. We drank cardomon Arabic coffee and ate nuts, fruit and busicuits made with dates. The girls explained that the men were currently on their 'tour', visitng the ladies in their family, saying 'Eid Mubarak' and handing out money. In a mixture of broken English, translated Arabic and the few Arabic words I now understand, they explained that on Eid, everyone wears new clothing, special Eid prayers are prayed, sheep are sacrificed, a feast is created, sweets and cakes and fruit decorate homes, families travel long distances to see each other, boys get new hair cuts specially for the occasion and the girls receive a gift of money from the men. The atmosphere that day: the excitement, the food, the gifts and the trandition created a familiar feeling of Christmas. 

When the men returned, boys sporting new Renaldo hair cuts, 'Eid Mubarak' was said to all, and then the girls set out on their tour. We went to 5 houses in the area visiting grandparents, aunts and uncles and a married sister who now lives with her husband and son. Tea, coffee and questions flowed and we felt fully welcome at this special family occasion. For a few hours I forgot about the occupation, but when we stepped outside, I was reminded once again of the reality in which these people live. From their garden, the girls pointed out the sacred Dome of the Rock on the horizon, the mosque where they used to pray on Eid but are now denied the right to do so. 

The long day ended in the biblical town of Bethany, where Lazarus's tomb is believe to be, eating ice cream with Muslims, under the watch of Jews.

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