On the 2nd day of Eid holidays I drove out to Wadi al Mayh to take in some new sights. I didn’t realize that I would get a cultural lesson on how Eid is celebrated by the locals. I noticed this first group of Omani men and boys being taught out of the koran by a local Mullah at about 7:20am.
5 minutes down the dirt road I noticed a 2nd group breaking up (with handshakes and kisses on the cheeks) the same kind of koran lesson at the foot of another mountain.
Two of the younger gentlemen came over to chat with the inquisitive (and probably lost looking) tourist. “Photo?” they ask. Why not?!
This boy looked so cute in his Eid getup that I just had to get a picture! 🙂
This girl was also very cute but I snapped a picture of her walking in the other direction because I wanted to highlight the gorgeous costumes they wear to celebrate Eid.
Just look at those beautiful, colorful Eid dresses those girls are wearing!
A 3rd group I saw learning from the koran that morning!
There were a group of young Omani boys who were very curious about the foreigner with a camera so they came running up to me to practise their “hellos” and “how are yous” with me. There were drums with the group of men and boys learning from the koran and it makes me wonder if they sing together before the lesson. I love this shot of the Omani boy sitting on the drums! 🙂
What a priceless scene! Aren’t they adorable?!
Once too many kids of the kids started gathering around (and asking for Eid money!) I figured that I better get going as I didn’t want to disturb their meeting! Some of the men smiled and waved and even beckoned for me to join them. Others looked like they didn’t appreciate my being there. I completely understand and appreciate both feelings but in order not to offend anyone, I didn’t hang around too long.
WARNING: There are pictures of sheep, goats and cows being butchered below. I have to warn you that they’re not for those with a weak stomache! 🙂 We’re talking hacked off heads and pools of blood here so don’t say I didn’t warn you! (If you’re THAT sensitive about it, I don’t think you should be eating meat in the first place but that’s a topic for another day…)
This pic above and the next 9 below are of men from the village of Hajir cutting up animals to eat over the Eid holiday. Hajir is a small village of only about 60 homes and 400 people.
The great thing about driving through small towns during Eid (at the right timing of course!) is that you are able to see goats, cows and sheep being cut up at just about every household! In Muscat, I think most people take them to “the slaughterhouse” (I remember thinking that sounded like a horror movie the first time I drove by that sign last year! 🙂 ) and pay for someone to get it done. Someone correct me if I’m wrong here. Is there anyone from Muscat reading this who cuts up their own animals during Eid?
The gentleman on the right made me realize why so many people might have been perfectly alright with me taking pics on this day when he asked me, “What magazine do you work for?” (Is it possible that many might have thought the same thing seeing how I was filming with my awesome new Canon?! Hmmm…) I’d like to set the record straight and note that not all these villagers are “farmers” or “small town folk”, by the way. The man on the right, for example, works for the National Bank of Oman in Muscat and came back to his village to celebrate Eid with his family.
Every Eid (or I should say just before it starts…) there seems to be a “stock market increase”. By “stock”, I’m referring to sheep and goats though! Due to the increased demand for livestock, prices increase! This year, for example, an Australian sheep sells for RO 75-80 while a sheep from Somalia sells for RO 35-40. Omani goats are available in very small numbers and so they now sell for RO 90-130. (These interesting livestock facts were taken from M Najmuz Zafar’s fascinating article “Livestock prices shoot up ahead of Eid despite excess stocks” in the Nov 14th edition of Muscat Daily)
To get your animal slaughtered at the slaughterhouse costs RO1 for a goat, RO2 for cattle and RO4 for a camel. Many talented and able villagers do it themselves as a family each year like these hard-working men of Hajir!
The 2nd group I had the pleasure of filming and chatting with in Hajir. It may seem that only the men are taking part in this task but what you don’t see (in these pics) are the many women and young girls cutting up pieces of meat behind the gates of their homes. The men were the ones I observed doing the initial butchering just off the main streets before handing them off to the ladies to do the finishing touches.
This is the 3rd group from Hajir that I had the pleasure of meeting this Eid. The people of Hajir were very friendly and inviting. I feel very fortunate to have been treated so nicely by everyone I met there!
Eid al Adha is known to be the most significant day in the Islamic Hijri calendar (I didn’t make this up-just quoting the Times of Oman!). Muslims across the globe celebrate the event in which Abraham, in complete obedience to God Almighty, was willing to sacrifice his son and thereby prove his undying love and faith in God above even that which was most dear to him. God was testing him, however, (not “tempting” it must be pointed out!) and when he lifted up the sword to carry out the sacrifice, God called his name and told him not to sacrifice his son. God provided a ram, in the place of his son. (This story is found in Genesis 22 of the Old Testament) Now it must be mentioned that the Muslims believe that it was Ishmael who was the son offered while Jews and Christians (“Ahlu al Kitab” in Arabic or “People of the Book“) believe that it was Isaac. I’m not going to take this opportunity to jump up on my soapbox and tell you why I believe what I believe (for now!) but of course it had to be one son or the other. More on this in a later post (if you care)! 🙂
Look at the cute little guy in the bottom left corner. I think it’s so lovely that the whole family gets involved. Just watch out for those knives, little one! 🙂
I chanced upon this energetic group of children in Yitti (11 kms from Wadi al Mayh) as they were returning from the nearby convenience store.
Another reason for kids to get excited on Eid is the custom where children go around and ask for Eid money from adults. I was cleaned out of all my baizas from the kids in Yitti! 🙂
What a fun group of kids! 🙂
Another cute girl from Yitti who was not camera shy in the slightest.
One of the new friends I met on this exciting day was Mohammed from Yitti. I offered him a ride from Yitti to the main road. (I know I said I would try to avoid picking up hitchhikers but when you see an older Omani gentleman who seems to need help, what can you do?!) Maybe it’s Eid. Maybe it’s the 40th anniversary. I’m not sure but the Omanis I met today seemed even friendlier than normal (and Omanis are quite friendly to begin with!).
And it wasn’t just Omanis I had the pleasure of meeting today. There was a group of Bangladeshi men who live just outside of Yitti who were also a great joy to mingle with. The man on the left is Mohammed who has been working in Oman for 22 years! Does he look 40 to you?! He works for a Christian international British lawyer married to a Muslim Omani lady!!!
One last pic to this long post. Here are some Omani boys asking for Eid $ from each car that stopped at the Sarooj petrol station! 🙂 I’m sure they raked in the dough, ha!ha!
I know a lot of foreigners head off to Dubai or fly off on some “special Eid package” offered by airlines at this time of year. I’m glad that I got a chance to enjoy even just a taste of the culture of the Omani people at this important time of year for them. 🙂 Enjoy the rest of your holiday, folks, and stay safe out there!