Eid al-Adha Mubarak!
As many of you may be aware, the past few days have been marked by one of the most important Islamic holidays: Eid al-Adha, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice. Growing up, I used to hear a lot of stories about this special celebration from my Muslim friends in Germany, who called it “Opferfest”, but I never imagined myself actually celebrating it. For me, it was just another holiday that sounded intriguing but was not really my business celebrating since it wasn’t part of my religion. Little did I know at that time that I would one day travel to Pakistan and have the incredible chance of celebrating Eid al-Adha in a Muslim country with a Muslim family.
I wish I could describe the amazing sense of unity I felt during this celebration in words and pictures but unfortunately, that isn’t possible. However, I’ll still try my best to share the magic of celebrating Eid al-Adha in Pakistan with all of you in this post so that hopefully we can all learn and become more tolerant together.
Traveling to Pakistan anytime soon? Here’s everything you need to know about traveling to Pakistan in 2022!
Read more: 24 Most Iconic Mosques In The World To See Before You Die
Pin It For Later!
What Is The Significance Of Eid Al-Adha?
One of the most significant holidays in Islam, Eid Al-Adha celebrates the Quranic story of Ibrahim’s sacrifice to Allah. As a test of faith, Allah commanded Ibrahim to sacrifice his own son. Being a faithful man, Ibrahim complied with the command but just before the sacrifice, Allah replaced Ibrahim’s son with a sheep to be sacrificed instead. Since then, Muslims around the world have been celebrating this special holiday by sacrificing animals – oftentimes goats and sheep, but also cows and even camels – in a practice known as Qurbani. Following the sacrifice, the meat is divided into three portions: one third for the family, one third for friends and relatives, and one third for the poor.
Read more: 24 Most Iconic Mosques In The World To See Before You Die
In Preparation For Eid Al-Adha
Like any other major holiday, Eid Al-Adha requires preparation at least a week in advance. I arrived in Pakistan on July 23rd and Eid was celebrated on August 1st. This meant that since the day I arrived, the country, including the family I stayed with was in preparation for this special holiday. This is what it looked like:
Traditionally, everyone wears a new outfit for Eid. This means that Eid shopping is a big thing in Pakistan and clothing stores usually make huge profits before Eid al-Adha. Although malls and bazaars are normally open late into the night before Eid to give people enough time to shop, this year was a little different. As a measure to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, most shops already closed at 7:00 pm and didn’t open at all over the weekend. This definitely made Eid preparations a little trickier and required us to plan our shopping well in advance.
I went to the mall with the rest of the family five days before Eid al-Adha. I bought a variety of colorful traditional clothes, shoes, and jewelry for myself. However, one outfit my host mom insisted on buying for me. Undoubtedly, it became my official Eid dress.
A Day At The Beauty Parlor
Similarly, everyone wants to look their best for Eid al-Adha in every possible way, including me. That’s why I joined the family’s girls on a day at the beauty parlor, where I got my eyebrows threaded, hair cut, mehndi, manicure, and pedicure done. Due to COVID-19 understaffing, the procedures took a lot longer than usual and we all spent more than five hours at the parlor. However, the long wait was worth it and the results turned out amazing – so amazing that in the end, the salon featured my mehndi on their Instagram!
Selecting Our Goats
One thing I wasn’t part of was selecting our goats for Qurbani a few days before. Undoubtedly, we all trusted the family’s father to select beautiful and healthy animals for this year’s sacrifice. However, what I definitely was part of was caring for the animals when they arrived at our home the day before Eid. In Islam, it’s very important to treat the animals that are going to be sacrificed with kindness and respect because they are considered sacred. Therefore, I spent the rest of the day feeding and petting the goats in order to make their last day a bit more peaceful and enjoyable.
On August 1st, the day was finally there. I had been working until 4 am the night before, so I was super tired in the morning. However, the excitement of celebrating my first Eid al-Adha in Pakistan managed to keep me up better than any chai ever could.
A Sweet Morning
At around 9 am, I woke up to a sweet bowl of kheer, a popular Pakistani dessert consisting of rice cooked in milk with various nuts and spices. It’s a tradition to eat something sweet in the morning of Eid and kheer is pretty much the go-to dessert in this household. Quite understandably, because who doesn’t love kheer?
What I certainly missed due to sleeping in late was the traditional sacrifice of our two goats. The slaughter of all sacrificial animals during Eid al-Adha strictly follows the dhabihah, the halal method of slaughtering. According to the dhabihah, the animal’s jugular veins, carotid arteries, and windpipe must be cut without damaging the spinal cord while reciting the name of Allah1. After that, the animal must bleed out completely.
By the time I woke up, the hardworking butcherers that came to our house had already completely skinned and cut the two goats, leaving behind a sight no different from your regular butcher shop or supermarket.
A Delicious Feast
Only a few hours after the qurbani, lunch was already served, utilizing exclusively the meat from the recent sacrifice. The first meal we had was mutton pulao, which was followed by mutton qorma and shami kebab.
It may sound a bit strange to say at this point but I really enjoyed eating the meat of the animals I had cuddled the day before. Oftentimes, we go to the store and buy ready-cut meat without thinking about what happened before. However, truth is that the millions of animals that are slaughtered every day are also just living beings, we just didn’t see them before so we have no feelings. In my opinion, the pain you feel when sacrificing your own animals creates a lot more respect for the animal and makes you appreciate the food even more.
Read more: Pakistani Breads And Reasons To Love Them
With our bellies full and happy, it was now time to get dressed in our beautiful new clothes and take Eid photos together. If you scroll through Instagram on the day of Eid, you’ll see lots and lots of Pakistani teenagers flaunt their latest additions to the wardrobe. And of course, I jumped right on the bandwagon. I mean, I can’t really let that gorgeous mehndi go to waste, can I?
Lastly, my host mom surprised me with cash in her hands. Although more popular during the earlier Eid al-Fitr, many families also follow the tradition of Eid money for Eid al-Adha. In this practice, the elders of the family give pocket money, ranging between anything from symbolic to large amounts, to the children. Well, looks like at the age of nineteen I still count as a child!
Celebrating Eid al-Adha in Pakistan was a mind-blowing experience that I wouldn’t have dreamed about a few months ago. I’m extremely grateful for the chance to spend this special day with such kind people and learn more about this important Islamic holiday through full immersion. Furthermore, I really hope that more people around the world could have such eye-opening experiences to help them understand different cultures and religions. It would certainly make our world a much more tolerant place.
Traveling To Pakistan During The Pandemic: Everything You Need To Know
24 Most Iconic Mosques In The World To See Before You Die
Pakistani Breads And Reasons To Love Them
Your post took me back home to Nigeria and how much we loved to celebrate Eid. It was a community celebration where we cook and share the food with neighbours in the community. I hope to celebrate Eid in a different country soon.
That’s amazing! Nigeria is definitely on top of my bucket list. Judging by the photos I’ve seen so far, it reminds me quite a bit of Pakistan.
I don’t know much at all about Eid but I love hearing and learning about different cultural practices and this was very interesting to read. It sounds like you had an incredible experience!
How interesting! I grew up in a very different cultural background than this one, so I had not heard of Eid Al-Adha. I so enjoyed reading about it – thank you!
I’m actually in Somalia and just celebrated Eid for the first time! It was nowhere near as formal as we’re obviously quite limited on where we can go, but it was an amazing experience nonetheless. We went out to the village with a huge bag of snacks to hand out to the kids!
That must have been amazing! It was also my first time celebrating Eid and doing so in a Muslim country with a Muslim family is as immersive as it can get!
this was incredible to read – thank you so much for sharing! i learned a lot and love the way you write 🙂 x
Thank you so much! I’m glad to hear that 🙂
Wow! What an experience that must have been! And you share the actually feeling. BTW he food looks scrumptious. Great read, thank you!
Thank you so much! The food was indeed yummy!
I didn’t know much about celebrating Eid, but it was interesting to read your blog 🙂 Also, I’d love to try kheer, it looks delicious.
Definitely try kheer, I haven’t met a single person who doesn’t love it! The recipe is very simple, so you can easily try it at home 🙂
What an amazing experience! This aricle taught me a lot, thanks for sharing!
This sounds lovely. Eid-Al-Adha in South Africa, where I live, was very quiet this year because of Coronavirus.
I can imagine! Hope everyone stays well over there!
What an amazing cultural experience. It’s these times that mean so much with travel.
I didn’t know anything about Eid, but your article was so interesting and that was so much information. It is always such a great experience learning about new cultures!
What an incredible experience! I would love to go to Pakistan and getting to experience it for Eid al-Adh would be amazing
Absolutely! It’s always great to experience special holidays in other countries.
Sounds like you’ve had an amazing experience! I love getting to know other cultures 🙂
Woww, very well written post. I really enjoyed reading it. The food looks delicious and I am so glad that you got to celebrate festival with that experience.
Thank you so much 🙂
Your photos are amazing! This is the perfect destination for a trip. Reading your blog has definitely got me thinking about coming up with a plan to visit in Pakistan the future at some point.
Thanks so much! I couldn’t recommend visiting this amazing country more!