Tuesday, August 13, 2013

MY OWN PHOTOS: Eid al Fitr day 1, somewhere in the Hajar mountains

Belated Eid mubarak lovelies. InshaAllah your Eid was a safe and happy one. I am going to post some photos of my Eid Al-Fitr here in Oman, and explain our traditions a little. First off, Eid-Al Fitr is the Eid that happens after all the fasting of Ramadan. It means to start everything off pure, and good and new, and hopefully, keep all those good behaviours people committed themselves to during Ramadan. You could think of it like our New Year's and Christmas all in one;).
EID FOR ME STARTS LIKE THIS: As most Omanis are not originally from Muscat, a mass exodus occurs from the capital region, where ALMOST everyone works. Families pile into cars. Children are jammed onto laps. Occasionally you will spy a bull (Eid-sacrifice-that-got-away) leap off the the back of the pick-up where he was badly tied, and freak everyone out on the freeway. It is not odd to see the occasional goat in the backseat of a Range Rover on the highway to Nizwa. On the way, all Omani relatives who forgot something in Muscat, or Rustaq, or Nizwa, will call you to pick stuff if you are the last one to leave, so OPNO TIP: avoid this if grocery lists that include tailoring shops, bullets, fireworks, grass for animals, and other peoples' drycleaning, at all annoy you.
During the drive, people are still fasting the last day of Ramadan, but a lot of bathroom, Mosque, and gas station stops colour the way. Children, pregnant and menstrating women, do not fast, and a lot of last minute Eid supplies are picked up. Apparently, gas stations stock up on cheap perfume Oud knowing this. {OPNO TIP: Nizwa has a Lulu, a big kind of grcoery/goods store, and the souq usually stays open selling  banana leaves, and coals for cooking Omani "shuwa" meat, which I will get to later}. Like our cake, pictured above. It says "Eid Mubarak" in Arabic. Now, try juggling a cake, and a baby on your lap, all while driving. This is the scary drive from Muscat to the Interior during Eid. Usually, that plus some random freak rainstorms (I have met with hail), mudslides, and rockfalls. Alhamdulilah (thanks-be-to-God) this Eid, the flooding was so minimal that only the slowest Porsche ever in front of us was even bothered by the puddles.
After we arrived in our village, we of course, exchanged the necessary greetings (if you are Omani, this can take all night). As I am not, after having finished with that, I could get out to stretch my legs a little. We went for a walk down the falaj (ancient Persian-engineered irrigation system) to see the Shuwa cooking area. In many places in Oman, during each Eid, goats, cows, and occasionally sheep and camels, are slaughtered for their meat, and then cut up, slathered in a spice mix, wrapped in banana leaves, put into palm frond woven sacks, and buried on top of hot coals to cook under the ground for 1-2 days. Below, is the area prepped for the next days' shuwa cooking. Palm fronds, stuffed into the hole to burn down in coals for the cooking of shuwa. I only like goat shuwa. No offense Oman, but cow shuwa kind of sucks. That's just my opinion.
As it was still Ramadan, many people in the village were still busy with praying, reading Qu'ran, and fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) books, and visiting relatives that they hadn't seen in a long time. Then, dinner is served. Usually in our village we sit on the floor along the rim of circular mats, with sheets of plastic arranged on top before a large serving bowl laden with rice and chicken and vegetable sauces is strewn over it all. You eat with your right hand, wash in a bowl of water, and brink at least 1 cup of Arabic coffee if offered to be polite, 10 if you are me, and people already think you are crazy.
After dinner, there isn't much to do besides visit, and, do henna. Henna in our village is a big deal. Women have favourite kinds. Women dislike different styles. The older women prefer the traditional style of just colouring the nails and palms of the hand and feet. The younger girls obviously like to match their flowers and spirals and paisley motifs to their dresses.
Henna is made from a powdered paste derived from the bark of a tree, and applied wet, to the skin, from a tube stiffened with tape, and then cut for a small opening for application. Henna takes patience, as one must wait for the wet mixture to dry before removing it. Patience, is something I lose a little more of in Oman, everyday. Anyways...Omani henna is orange/brown in colour, black henna is actually not henna at all, and red pakistani  henna is my favourite, because brown just stays orange on my white skin, and looks dumb. Below, some designs typical from my village:
After the henna dries, we usually go to bed, in order to wake up in time for the Eid gathering before Eid prayer. Which this year, was around 4:15 a.m. Sadly, we slept in, but when we did wake up, the kids enjoyed their Eid gifts anyways. Usually Omani kids get money, or candy and nuts, from relatives on Eid mornings, and then they buy toys sold later in the day, with their Eid money. This money is called "Eidiyia". Our Eid gifts included everything we would wear for the Eid days, Omani traditional dress, toys khanjar dagger, ect..... Some lucky little girls get gold.
I got perfume:
First part of the morning we put on new or our best clothes. My Eid outfit this year sucked because my tailor was a thief. Anywaysssssss, so after we got ourselves and the kiddies done up in their best and brightest (and in many cases blinged out) we met and mingled, shaking hands, and taking a traditional meal of harees (wheat and chicken) and then, saffron tea, coffee, Omani helwa sweet, nuts, and fruit. This seems to be all I eat during Eid+ chocolates.
Our "Eidyia" gifts for the village munchkins
During all the handshaking, giving out of Eid gifts...
...we all head up to the Eid grounds for Eid prayer. I honestly find it too hot in Oman to enjoy this. But the kids in their little Omani dress and dishdashas ARE precious.
After salat, the men go down to slaughter the Eid sacrifice, and the women will later change into less nice clothes and cute the meat into kebab-lie chunks and the shuwa meat portions. Everyone sits together and helps, and the kids run around playing with eachother and new toys. I don't do very much as I am "not from the tribe" or the "family" and the men don't "feel comfortable" around me, which is a purely cultural and not religious things, which bugs me a little, but Islamically, I guess I shouldn't care. I watch MBC action, and don't have to do a lick of work. I got to keep wearing my neat little bracelets.
 And, as for the Eid cow, that's probably the last photo of it you want to see....


Anonymous said...

Mashaallah i love all the pics, except that last one with the cow looks nasty :(. Anywho i absolutely love that henna too! it's beautiful! mashaallah. Am glad you had a good eid overall. Nice blog. Saima.

Anonymous said...

As Salamualaikum! Thank you for sharing your eid! I love to see how it's celebrated in other countries, so far i've only witnessed saudi and egypt which are totally different from USA. Village life looks awesome and simple, Mashaallah. And I've never seen a cow with a hump before?! so strange looking lol

Blue said...

Mashallah such cuties!

Would you gals mind updating the Blue Abaya link to blueabaya.com, just ditch the blogspot! Thanks :)