Gaza’s people join Muslims worldwide in celebrating one of the most important dates in the Muslim calendar, Eid al-Adha or the Festival of Sacrifice which marks the end of the fifth pillar in Islam, Hajj.
On the morning of the Eid we woke up early to an exhilarating dawn breeze to finish the last moment preparations for the important day. I then went with my family to listen to a touching sermon followed by the special Eid prayer. Throngs of people who had gathered outside to conduct the prayers warmly shared greetings to each other.
An Atmosphere of Peace Prevails
As it is typically known, mutual greetings strengthen ties of brotherhood between people, and this is certainly true in Islam.
Eid is the time for unbounded forgiveness, it is a real opportunity for everyone to express his or her well wishes to their beloved ones, wishes of peace, happiness, and prosperity to one and all, to the world.
I was filled with joy when I accompanied my father for the first time to bring our sacrificial animal, it was a sheep this time.
In Islam, Muslims mark this Eid by sacrificing a goat in an honor to the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son, Ismael in a submission to Allah’s command. His sacrifice was accepted, and all Muslims wish their sacrifices are as well.
After getting it, we turned back home, then, to distribute it. The sacrifice should be distributed into three parts, the first third for the family, the second third of relatives, the third part is donated to the less fortunate people in a way to show our care of each other, and how much everyone is careful to include all people in these great days.
My eight-year old sister, Arwa, was delighted when she delivered some parts to some of our neighbors.
How We Celebrate
People exchange visits in a very interesting manner, to the extent that you might see your relatives three separate times during the joyous four-day holiday.
We welcomed my maternal, and paternal uncles in our home in the first day of Eid. In the second day, the whole extended family gathered in my uncle’s house where we met to wish to each other a fruitful year ahead with Allah’s blessings.
Talking until late in the night, and meeting new people who came to visit my grandmother have been always been wonderful parts of these lovely occasions.
We seize the chance to hold a feast with everyone around, and it always a great time to make delicious dishes with my aunts and cousins.
I am the eldest granddaughter for my grandma, who now has up to 57 grandsons and granddaughters. For me, Eid is a golden opportunity to meet them all, including the new faces of the newly born ones.
We also make phone calls for distant relatives to wish them Happy Eid. It is an amazing way to extend the circle of celebrations.
People can pay respect to family members who passed away, and wish them heaven above.
A Day for Children
Children are the ones who seem to be the most excited with this holiday, as they enjoy a considerable break from school.
Parents in Gaza spare no expense to bring laughter to their kids. They often give their children new clothes which they can wear in front of their peers, even if the families experience financial problems. During the holiday, children can be found scattered in streets playing with each other, enjoying every moment.
In an attempt to amuse children during Eid, many small festivals are arranged in the open green spaces to let children meet each other and play during the holiday. I visited a nearby festival and met Yazzan, 8, as he was waiting for his turn with his sister to get on a ride. The impeccably dressed boy was over the moon with his friends.
“I wanted to seize every moment to play to have fun with my friends. I want to compensate what I have missed during last year Eid,” Yazan said.
He complained that he was forced to stay home during Eid, fearing Israeli strike last year.
Children’s laughs and screams filled the park when they played hide-and-seek, a very popular game for children in Gaza, as it is with children everywhere.
What marks Eid celebrations in Gaza, is the visits to the martyrs’, and prisoners’ families.
In my small neighborhood, seven people were killed in the war last summer. Therefore, my dad and some neighbors paid a visit to these families, bringing with them gifts for the young kids, in an attempt to delight young kids in a cheerful atmosphere.
Samira Kondos, 67, is an old woman in my neighborhood whose son has been held prisoner inside Israeli jails for more than 12 years.
“Nothing could please me during these days as much as grabbing few moments to see my son, to touch him, to tell him how much do I miss him during such times,” Samira said while tears were pouring down her cheeks.
Her touching words prove to everyone that happiness in Gaza will not be fully completed without an utter liberation of our prisoners and our land!
According to Samira, Eid will be truly celebrated when we have our beloved ones around us and when we have our holy shrines freed. Yet, what no one can deny is the fact that people in Gaza seize all possibilities to have fun, and to feel contented with what is accessible for them in the besieged Gaza.