Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Eid Al Fitr in Salalah

Published September 21, 2010
To be honest, I find it hard to believe that Ramadhan is over. Once you get into the routine of quiet fasting, the shock of the Eid is quite hard to handle. Despite the fact that we did not eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset for an entire month, I have to admit that fasting was much easier this year in Dhofar due to the cool weather and monsoon rains. In fact, many people claim it has been the easiest Ramadhan in over three decades!

For most of us, last week was a blur of fasting, cleaning, shopping, baking, and preparing for the Eid. During the few days before the Eid, shops were open until the wee hours of the morning to accommodate the needs of the thousands of last minute frantic shoppers. On Thursday evening, everyone ate their Iftar with eyes glued to Oman TV waiting for the big announcement about whether or not we were fasting one more day, or celebrating the Eid the next morning. An hour after sunset the crescent moon had been sighted, marking the end of the Holy Month of Ramadhan and the beginning of Eid. I'm sad that Ramadhan is over but at the same time happy that I can eat and drink again at regular times! My morning cups of freshly brewed coffee at work were sorely missed!
The morning of Eid al Fitr is always awkward. We have all readjusted our bodily clocks, and have made new habits. Many may find they are wide awake at four thirty in the morning thinking they must get up and eat the pre-dawn meal (also known as Suhoor). After a couple of hours more of sleep, everyone wakes up and heads guiltily to the kitchen to eat their first breakfast in a month. Eating in broad daylight can take some getting used to, that's for sure! As the men head to the mosque for early morning Eid prayers, the women hurriedly prepare the majlis for guests. Each house has a spread of sweets, fruit, drinks, Omani coffee, and halwa, a traditional Omani sweet. By nine o'clock in the morning, children have already started visiting every house in their neighborhood dressed in their new clothes, and soon their pockets are bulging with candy and Eidia (small change given out to children during the Eid). By the end of the morning, they're all on a sugar high (adults included) and head home to rest before their second round of visits in the afternoon.
The next few days are dedicated solely to visiting family and relatives. In Salalah, women usually stay at home and receive children and male relatives on the first day of the Eid and do most of their visiting on the second or third day, or even after that. Over the past 72 hours I'm pretty sure I received and visited at least one hundred relatives. Each conversation blended into the next so I am finding it hard to remember everyone's news. It can be quite overwhelming, and it doesn't help knowing I have yet another four days of visiting to do before heading back to work on Saturday! In Salalah, visiting isn't confined to the first three or four days of the Eid like most of the rest of Oman. It can go on for well over a week. I suppose this might be related to the fact that families in the south of Oman are larger than in other areas of the Sultanate.
The Eid in Salalah feels special this year due to the unusually prolonged monsoon rains, the beautiful green mountains just beginning to appear out of the mist, and the presence of tourists from the GCC and other parts of Oman who have come to Salalah just for the Eid holiday. The presence of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos in Dhofar for Ramadhan and Eid this year made it even more special. Everyone was cheerful just by knowing His Majesty is in town and that he performed Eid al Fitr prayers at Al Hisn Mosque on the ocean.
At the same time, however, the Eid marks the end of the three month 'slump' that Oman gets into with the summer holidays, Ramadhan, and in Salalah's case, the monsoon. On Saturday, Oman can wake up from its very long nap and hopefully begin to get some real work done. Children and college students head back to school, work timings go back to normal and everything becomes a blur of activity again. It's about time! But..... we are already looking forward to next Ramadhan.

1 comment:

  1. yes - the Ministry of Tourism said there were lots of visitors to Salalah over Eid - I hope that they and you enjoyed Eid and that the new school terms go well