What is Eid Al-Fitr and Why is it Celebrated?
Ramadan is the ninth month on the Islamic calendar and Muslims all over the world are expected to abstain from eating and drinking and sexual relations during the daytime. Eid al-Fitr is the first day of Shawwal, the tenth month on the Islamic calendar. It is celebrated to show gratitude to Allah and ask for forgiveness for any transgressions committed. It is also a festival to forgive and forget any differences or animosity with others. Oman is all about traditions and culture, and traditions are what make Eid celebrations special. A festival that connects generations, Eid is a reminder that no one is forgotten.
Eid in Oman Dates: 4th June to 7th June. Dates may vary.
Preparing For Eid
In the days leading up to Eid in Oman, people begin their preparations by buying clothes and finery and foodstuffs. Head to Mutrah Souk in Muscat, which will be filled with stalls selling all kinds of traditional garments and jewellery and spices. Quite like spring-cleaning, many Muslim households undergo 'Ramadan-cleaning' when the entire house is cleaned up from top to bottom as according to Islam, cleanliness is half of faith. It is very rare to see dirty floors or railings or cars during this time, with the result that everything is spotless and sparkling.
How Eid is Celebrated in Oman
The day begins with a pre-dawn bath and a breakfast of sweets like halwa or sheer kurma (milk with dates and vermicelli) and dates, followed by communal prayer and listening to a sermon in a mosque. All family members, men, women, and children are encouraged to take part in the prayers. People greet each other with 'Eid Mubarak' and hugs and it's normal to have strangers stop you on the street to wish you. It's customary to give charity; voluntary (Sadaqah, with no fixed amount) and compulsory (Zakat and Zakar Al-Fitr) to the poor on this day.
Food Prepared on Eid in Oman
Omani hospitality also reaches new highs during Eid. People will offer you the Omani speciality of halwa, which is a sticky sweet, made of water, sugar, eggs, corn flour, and ghee, flavoured with cardamom and saffron and sometimes infused with rosewater. Halwa plays an important role in celebrations in the Omani lifestyle and is bought fresh on Eid morning. This halwa is generally paired with Omani Kahwa, which is like black coffee with cardamom and whole white cloves. Dates are also a common staple in this region and there are as many as 250 indigenous varieties of dates you can sample, such as Al Khalas, Al Khuzaini, Al Fardh, and Al Khasab. Omani hospitality also believes that no one will be without a home on Eid, so this hospitality extends to locals opening up their houses for strangers who can enter and partake in the happiness.
Common mouth-watering celebratory food to be served is Kabsa (a rice dish with meat, vegetables, and a mix of spices), Shuwa (meat marinated in Omani spices, wrapped in palm fronds, and grilled in an underground sand oven), Meshkak or Kebab (marinated meat grilled on sticks), Harees (a mixture of meat and milk), and Mashuai (grilled kingfish in lemon sauce), Muqalab (Tripe cooked with cardamom,cinnamon, cloves, and other spices), and Sakhana (thick soup made dates, milk, molasses, and wheat). This can be served with bread, which is usually baked at home in an underground tandoor. For dessert, once again there will be halwa and Kahwa.
If you are visiting during the months of Ramadan, make sure to stay on for Eid in Oman to see how the entire country lights up and comes alive for this festival of love and togetherness.