Eid-ul-Adha also known as Id-ul-Zuha, Bakrid or Eid-al-Adha is an Islamic festival celebrated by Muslims all over the world. It is celebrated to commemorate the sacrificial will of Prophet Abraham, on the command of God (Allah).
Former was readily willing to sacrifice his own son on latter’s command; though, god intervened in the last moment to save Abraham’s son Ishmael (Isaac – in Bible) from being sacrificed.
Eid-al-Adha is also called the “Greater Eid” as it the most significant of two Eid festivals, other being Eid-ul-Fitr. The celebrations also mark the end of annual Hajj pilgrimage to the holy town of Mecca. The festivities range from two to three days and are marked with get together, feasting, charity and gift giving.
Eid-al-Adha in 2019 will be celebrated on Monday, 12th August 2019. Though, the exact date of observance may vary from country to country, depending on the sighting of moon.
When is Eid-al-Adha Celebrated?
The festival of Eid-al-Adha is celebrated based on the Islamic Hijri Calendar. It is lunar calendar consisting of 12 lunar months. Eid-al-Adha is celebrated on the 10th day of 12th and last month of “Dhu-al-Hijjah” or Zulhijja. The date of the celebration of Eid-al-Adha may vary from country to country depending on the sighting of the moon.
In Arabic “Eid” refers to a holiday and “Adha” is a reference to sacrifice. Hence, Eid-al-Adha means a holiday of sacrifice or more precisely, a festival of sacrifice. The festival is also commonly called “Bakrid” in Indian sub continent, given to the sacrifice of “Bakra”- Hindi word referring to a male goat.
Story behind Eid-al-Adha
The story behind the celebration of Eid-al-Adha is a story named as – “Binding of Isaac”, stated in the Hebrew Bible, which is a collection of Jewish texts and Christian Old Testament.
The story goes like this – One day God commands Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham was asked to do the sacrifice in the mountains of Moriah, located in present day Jerusalem. Though, some Muslim scholars believe that the sacrifice was commanded on the two small hills of Marwa and Safa, in the vicinity of Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
However, coming to the story – Abraham being an ardent disciple of Allah, readily agreed to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac. Abraham travelled for three days, accompanied by Isaac and a servant to reach the mountain where God instructed him. Upon reaching the mountain, Abraham, instructed his servant to remain at the foot of the hill, while he along with Isaac moved on into the hills.
The wood, upon which the sacrifice was to be made, was carried by Isaac himself. Not aware of his father’s intention, Isaac asked latter that where the animal of sacrifice was. Abraham replied that God will provide the animal by himself. Just as Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac, he was interrupted at the last moment by an angel of the lord.
Abraham turned back and saw a ram entangled by his horns in the bush. He sacrificed the ram instead of Isaac. Allah was very pleased with the obedience of Abraham and gave him a boon of prosperity and descendents. Though, God also told Abraham that one should never sacrifice a human life in the name of God. This day of sacrifice is observed as Eid-al-Adha by Muslims around the world.
The story of Isaac’s sacrifice was first mentioned in Hebrew Bible, which was composed around 8th to 1st century BCE. Abraham was an ancestor of Prophet Muhammad, who lived around 4000 years ago. Muslims believe that Prophet Abraham was instructed by Allah to build a shrine dedicated to him.
Abraham along with Ishmael (Isaac) constructed a small cube for those who wanted to reinstate their faith in Allah. The cube was reportedly constructed before 628 CE, when Prophet Muhammad set out on a journey to Kaaba with his followers. Since then the ritual of animal sacrifice is being followed in commemoration to Prophet Abraham’s obedience to the will of Allah.
Eid-al-Adha Rituals and Celebration
Eid-al-Adha is reverently celebrated by the Muslims around the world. During the bakrid, devotees throng to mosques to offer afternoon prayer to Allah. The prayers are performed as a congregation on the 10th Dhu-al-Hijjah. Participation of women in the prayers differs from section to section. Prayers for all the three days of the festival are considered mandatory for any Muslim.
People embrace each other and offer greetings after the prayers. “Eid Mubarak” (Happy Eid to you) is the most common Eid greeting used by the Muslim communities. Muslims visit each other’s house and feast with family and friends. There is also a custom of sacrificing an animal like a male goat and distributing its meat in three parts – one for the poor and needy, another for the family and friends and last portion for the relatives.
The animal sacrificed as offering could be anything from a camel to a cow, goat, sheep or ram (male sheep) depending on the region. To be sacrificed animal has to meet a certain criterion of age and health; otherwise, the animal is considered unfit for the sacrifice.
Muslim men and women are dressed in new clothes to offer prayers and also meet their friends and relatives. The custom of charity is also followed to offer the poor, a chance to have a proper Eid feast and mosques as well as other Muslim communities may arrange feasts.
Eid-al-Adha is also reverently celebrated in shrines and mosques by the Indian Muslim community. In Jama Masjid New Delhi, thousands of Muslims collect to offer prayers. In Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir, thousands of Muslims gather in the shrine of Hazratbal. Likewise, the festival is also grandly celebrated in Lucknow and Hyderabad.
Traditional Dishes of Eid-al-Adha
The festival of Eid-al-Adha offers numerous delicacies, apart from the meat, depending from region to region. Some of the most famous Eid-al-Adha dishes in India are haleem, kakab and biryani. Haleem is prepared by slowly cooking minced meat with rice, lentils and spices to get a paste with all the favors intact. Kabab is a boneless cooked meat and Biryani is a dish in which rice is cooked with meat and spices.
Likewise, in Turkey, “Oruk” is a popular Eid delicacy, which is a meat ball prepared by bulgur dough. Roasted lamb on the other hand is a popular festive delicacy in the Middle East countries. “Nalli Nihari” a slow cooked meat gravy meal is famous in Indian cities like Delhi and Lucknow.
The most popular dessert across the whole of central Asia especially in India and Pakistan, prepared during Eid-al-Adha is Sheer Khurma. It is prepared by vermicelli, milk, sugar and dry fruits.
Significance of Eid-al-Adha
Eid-al-Adha is the most significant Eid festival of Muslim community the second being Eid-ul-Fitr, for that reason it is also called “Greater Eid”. The festival commemorates the devotion of Abraham to God’s will and thus signifies the same. It also marks the end of annual Hajj pilgrimage and is celebrated as the day of sacrifice.
It reinstate the belief that if one keeps tremendous faith in Allah, he will intervene at the last moment to help. Since, Abraham was stopped from sacrificing Ishmael, by Allah himself, the festival conveys that no human should be sacrificed in the name of Allah. Thus, in a way the festival promotes harmony.
Despite from having religious significance the festival also has communal significance. Muslims celebrating the festival invite their non Muslim friends for feast. This custom is very much followed in secular democracies like India, United Kingdom and United States of America.
The ritual of distributing the sacrificed meat in three equal parts, one each for the poor, family and relatives, promote harmony and peace by a simple act of consideration towards the poor and needy.