In this article, I want to show you what an Eid looks like in Somalia. As you probably know, Muslims have two huge festivals (just like Christians do have Christmas and Easter) – the first of the year is Eid-ul Fitr, the festival of fast-breaking. It takes place at the end of Ramadan and is determined by the moon sighting. Since the Islamic calendar is based on the moon, the annual dates always shift by about 10 days.
Where is the moon?
On the potentially last day of Ramadan, the big question is, “Is tomorrow Eid or will we have to fast one more day?”. Everyone is looking for the crescent moon. I help Shakila, our helper, on our roof. With her typical lightness, she whizzes up the ladder, in order to find out disappointed: no moon in sight!
So we wait and occasionally look into the phone. I’m the first to discover a message from Islam-study on WhatsApp: Yes, the moon was spotted in Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Australia, so tomorrow is the big celebration!!! Everyone jumps and cheers for joy, hugging each other.
However, so far we seem to be the only ones who knew about it. In the mosques the call for the night prayer sounds, without any further messages. Uncertainty begins. This year’s hunt for eid is particularly exciting! Even Tarawih is prayed. Mmm. Let me call my husband and ask him if he can call his friends in Australia. 5 minutes later comes the answer by itself: Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, La illaha illa Llaaah! Allahu akbar Allahu akbar, wa liLlahi-l hamd! It sounds out of the mosques. These sentences are sung over and over, again and again. Horray, the joy is great! Our helpers, who come from farmer families from the South and are still very African-traditional influenced, begin drumming on empty oil canisters. In addition, the children dance with joy and sing something suitable. Here is a little insight.😀
Since the Islamic day already begins from the evening, Eid has actually started. Only the “right” / official Eid is tomorrow, after the Eid prayer.
Last preparations at full speed
I want to fulfill our 11-years old daughter’s dream and want to make a chocolate cake with her. She is the one who also decorates the living room with balloons and sweets until late at night. Anyway, right now we still need cocoa for the cake! So we go to the nearby supermarket. There’s a special atmosphere as everybody rushes to finish the last of their errands and are encouraged by Eid nasheeds (songs). We are unable to find the cocoa, but we got popcorn bags like the ones6 from the cinemas. And of course – a portion of ice cream should not be missed.😉
During that time, my co-wife drives one last time to the city to finish off last errands. She takes all the other kids, who also get the pleasure of an ice cream. Thankfully, she even finds a ready-made Choclate-cake mix. That’ s even better! The city is so crowded that you can hardly move forward.
While we are all outside in the Supermarkets, surprisingly, we get a little extra money, which I want to spend on an Abaya. Our plan is to go back to the city after baking the cake and bringing the children to bed. The only problem: my little daughter realizes that I want to leave again, and neither she falls asleep, nor does she let me go out of her arms! Thank God, she could not stay awake longer than midnight.
Slightly tired, I go to my co-wife. Surely is it too late now, and are all businesses closed? No, there is still a chance, let’s go! Meanwhile, the city is no longer crowded but full of trash, because everywhere lie the transparent bags from the new clothes. Where will all this rubbish end up?
We go from shop to shop. So much choice, so many colors and glamour! I have never seen such a selection of beautiful (long) party dresses for young and old in Germany. Of course, almost everything here comes from India, therefore they are so colorful and have a kind of Bollywood Style. Okay, but for my part I just wanted a simple Abaya, a dress which I can wear under my hijab. We negotiate the price $ 2 down, and then we can finally go home, but not before we have bought a few small toys for the little ones!
At 1 o’clock in the morning we come back home, beeing very exhausted. Then I realize that my new dress is too short. Oh no!!! Now I cannot exchange it anymore! That means, my old hijab has to be good enough for tomorrow, because I have to bring my dress to the tailor first. Funnily, my new shoes are still with the shoemaker, so there’s nothing new on Eid! The main thing is that the children wear their beautiful clothes and are happy about it.
Now it’s even too late to apply henna. I supposed to do henna for all the girls in our house, but had to postpone it to tomorrow. Right now I manage only to paint my own hands. Thanks to Youtube, I get enough inspiration. And with a podcast in my ear, I do not even notice how the time flies. At 2:30 am I’m falling to bed, half dead. Tomorrow will be a long day, in shaa Allah.
The Eid morning
Shortly after 5 o’clock in the morning I just manage to pray the morning prayer. I should have fallen asleep earlier last night! While I hear the other kids chattering excitedly, I lie down for a moment. Every minute of additional sleep is valuable. By 6:30 it is really time to prepare the children and myself. According to Islamic tradition (Sunnah) you have to take a quick shower before you go to the Eid prayer. At 7 o’clock the Eid singing sounds already from everywhere. We have to hurry up! We manage to get out of the house at 7:30 and walk quickly to our mosque, which is maximum 5 minutes away from us and already really full!
The Eid prayer
Thank God we are not too late and can get hold of a place between the people. Before that, we have to get through the line of beggars. By the way, it is a duty for every Muslim or family head to make a donation to the poor, Zakat-ul-Fitr. It is considered as purification and includes food for a whole family. The day before, my husband distributed whole cargoes of food and Eid dresses to the needy, on behalf of his relatives from abroad.
On this day the entire mosque is for the women reserved. When we enter, the imam is calling for donations for orphans and the construction of the mosque. Anyone can transfer his money directly to the account of the mosque with his mobile phone (yes, that’s how modern it is here!). 5 dollars, 20, 100 … in between he makes prayers for the donors.
Finally the prayer starts. Everyone gets up and follows the imam while praying. It is a special prayer unlike any other and is very short. Thank God I still find a place for my prostration in prayer, even though my little girl does not deviate a millimeter from me, sits and stands where I want to place my head.
Then it’s already over. While the imam is still giving a short speech, as it should be, the women are already pouring out, which is a pity. Meanwhile a few relatives welcome us and we wish each other a blessed Eid. Then it’s time to find our shoes again and get out.
We wait for the rest of the family and watch the beautifully dressed people. A few more relatives and friends greet us. However, this festival should be different than the previous ones, because this time they do not even come to our home and also my favorite sister-in-law is gone for travel. On one side somehow strange, on the other side a relief… And finally, we are already two families under one roof, so enough people to have fun!
After the breakfast is on the fire (meat-potato sauce with bread) and the first sweets have been eaten, it is time to put on clothes for the family photo.
Another relative comes over to take some pictures with the sultaan (my husband, in order to show them to her to her family abroad. Meanwhile, my husband has a few other guests to entertain.
Shaytan is free again
After breakfast, the children play with their new toys, balloons and whistles. The first ones are already broken, because China toys are probably intended for single day- usage. In the meantime I put some henna on the girls’ hands and then have to prepare already lunch. “No time left for nothing” outside of Ramadan, because you have to spend more time in the kitchen again!
Meanwhile, we also realize that the devils are freed from their chains where they were during Ramadan. There is a bad mood among the adults, which the children thank God do not notice.
How we catch ourselves again and make the rest of the day a day of rejoicing, I’ll tell you in the 2nd part, in shaa Allah!
See you soon,
PS: Another funny video of my kids. May Allah preserve them!