Muslims all over the world celebrate Eid-Al-Adha, also called Eid-Al-Zuha and Bakr Eid in India and the sub-continent. It is the tradition of sacrificing a goat or a sheep as prescribed by the faith. It is marked on the 10th day of Dhul Hijjah, a spiritual journey that Islam made compulsory for all able-bodied Muslims and those who can afford it.
Eid-Al-Adha is different from Eid-Al-Fitr. It is also called the festival of sacrifice.
This year, Eid-Al-Adha will begin in the evening of 11th August (Sunday) and will go on for four days till 15th August (Thursday).
It is celebrated in the remembrance of the sacrifice made by Prophet Ibrahim, who willingly accepted to sacrifice his son, Ishmael on the command of God. Just when he was about to sacrifice his son, it was revealed to him that he was put to test by God who had replaced his son with a lamb.
Muslims begin celebrations by visiting mosques and offering Salat-Ul-Eid (prayer) on the first day of the festival. While returning from their prayers, they must take different routes on their way back to home as practised by Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).
People prepare themselves for this day by following the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which includes performing the Wudhu (Islamic procedure of cleansing body parts), paying extra attention to their personal cleanliness, dressing up in new clothes and applying perfume.
The significance of the festival is to make Muslims more virtuous in their deeds and to elevate them from the worldly desires. People offer sacrifices, special prayers, and exchange of greetings, gifts and delicacies. In some countries, people buy, keep and slaughter their own animals.
Muslims must recite a special prayer called ‘Tsumiya’ before slaughtering the animal. According to the Islamic rules, the animal must be in good health and an adult. Females are not sacrificed. The sacrificed animal is referred to as ‘Udiyyah’ and the meat is divided into three parts: the family keeps one third, another third is given to friends and relatives while the last one is given to the people in need.
Eid-Al-Adha is marked by the preparation of different kinds of delicacies, like in Southeast Asia, Biryani is a famous food item, whereas in Turkey the main dish is kebab and in Arab countries, slow-cooked mutton is preferred with garlic and onions.
Usually, the festival lasts for four days, but the public holidays have variations in days. Mostly in Arab countries, a nine-day holiday is observed.