So there are two “Eid” celebrations, which literally means, happiness, in the Muslim calendar. The first one is after Ramadan, the single most well-known Muslim tradition that the world knows. The second one is after “Hajj” or pilgrimage which a lot of people outside America know pretty well. Actually, you probably have seen what it looks like…thousands of people draped in white sheets circumambulating the sacred black mosque, known as the Holy Ka’abah, in Mecca.
That is the mosque that Muslims pray towards five times a day. It used to be the holy mosque, Masjid Al-Aqsa, in Jerusalem but now we pray towards the Ka’abah.
The Ka’abah is the single most important monument for Muslims today. It is our identity, our soul and our resonance. It is where we become one.
I have been lucky to have visited the Ka’abah multiple times in my life and the impact I had upon seeing it the first time…I was seven.
A huge brick cube with huge black velvet drapes embroidered with arabic written in pure gold thread with a sea of people moving in unison as if bonded, connected tied together. There was fear in me. It was the closest symbol to Allah I had ever seen. Something physically representing divinity…since Muslims are not supposed to have idols or physical representations of God, it is sometimes challenging to focus one’s concentration on praying to the Almighty…but the Ka’abah, makes it much easier, in my opinion. We are supposed to imagine the Ka’abah when we pray..this is why you probably see the Ka’abah on some praying mats.
Anyhow, Hajj is the once in a lifetime pilgrimage that every Muslim who can afford it by way of health and wealth is supposed to make. It is one of the five pillars of Islam, the other four being:
Tauhid or belief in the unity of God
Charity or zaka’at.
In terms of the exact exercise, I took some help from Wikipedia since I haven’t done it myself…yet:
Each person would walk counter-clockwise seven times about the Kaaba, the cubical building towards which all Muslims pray, kiss the sacred Black Stone on its corner, run back and forth between the hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah, drink from the Zamzam Well, go to the plains of Mount Arafat to stand in vigil, then proceed to Muzdalifah to gather pebbles, which they would throw at a rock in Mina to perform the ritual of the Stoning of the Devil. The pilgrims would then shave their heads, perform an animal sacrifice, and celebrate the four day global festival of Eid ul-Adha.
The rest of the Muslims around the world celebrate the animal sacrifice with all their counterparts in Mecca. Hence, this is the infamous bloody “eid” where we sacrifice animals.
This was my favourite Eid back home as I would go with my father to pick our goats and then feed them and take care of them and yes, watch them get slaughtered. It is to resonate the feeling that Ibrahim (Abraham) felt when he put his son to sacrifice for God. It is hence encouraged to buy the animal a while before the day to get attached and hence justify the term “sacrifice”. One goat per person or one cow per seven people is the usual. You are to offer sacrifice when you start earning. I believe it is beyond a specific amount of earning too.
I still haven’t had my first Eid sacrifice animal through my own income and I haven’t spent Eid with my family since 2000.
Eid Mubarak Mama, Daddy, Aishaji, Amni moti, Raiyaan, Neemu bhai and everyone else…eid mubarak!