Every year millions of Muslims from around the globe make the trip to a holy city called Mecca in Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj; one of the five pillars of Islam. Hajj is performed between the 8th and 12th day of Dhul-Hijjah which is the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Afterwards, it is concluded with the second Muslim holiday known as Eid Al-Adha (festival of Sacrifice), which will be celebrated in less than a week here in Central Indiana.
What is Hajj?
Muslims make the pilgrimage to mecca for several reasons; first, it is one of the five main pillars of Islam, anyone who has the means and is able bodied must perform the hajj at least once in their lifetime. Second, it commemorates the trials of Abraham and his family in Mecca, which included Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael in response to God’s command. Lastly, it’s an opportunity to seek forgiveness of sins accumulated throughout life. Prophet Muhammad had said that a person who performs Hajj “will return as a newly born baby (free of all sins).” The pilgrimage also enables Muslims from all around the world, of different colors, languages, races, and ethnicities, to come together to worship one God.
What is Eid Al-Adha?
Eid Al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice) is the second and holiest major holiday for Muslims worldwide and marks the end of Hajj pilgrimage. Eid Al-Adha takes place on the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah (lunar calendar), In the Gregorian calendar the dates shift each year compared to the lunar calendar. During this holiday, Muslims who did not perform Hajj must wear nice outfits, attend the mosque for a special prayer and short sermon. Afterwards, people sacrifice an animal, usually a cow, sheep, lamb, or goat. The meat is divided into three parts; one part is given to the poor, one part to immediate family at home, and the last part to friends or distant relatives.
Muslims also choose to give money to charities or to families in need. Children receive gifts, money, and delicious treats only served on this holiday. People visit one another in their home or host festivals fun family activities. In my family, we generally sacrifice a lamb and divide it into the three parts among the poor and friends. My father likes to give to charities abroad, who are less fortunate. While my husband and I like to find a family in need within our community. One year I did not give my boys any gifts and rather taught them to give to children less fortunate, so we hosted a toy drive at our local mosque and were able to provide many children new toys.
Celebrating during Covid 2020
Unfortunately, as the globe is slowly recovering from the pandemic, this special pilgrimage that welcomes worshipers from all over the globe has been put on hold. This year is the first in history that no one from other countries will be performing the obligatory Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. As we see the number of Covid cases rise again, many mosques around the United States including our very own in Central Indiana, will not be holding services or festivals for its worshipers to attend. If you are a family like mine with young children; that can leave your kids feeling upset that the festivities will all be canceled and the usual visits with family and friends will not be the same. Even though our holiday may not be the same as previous years, there are still great ways to celebrate Eid Al-Adha in Central Indiana.
Ways to celebrate Eid Al-Adha in Central Indiana
Decorate Your Home
This year is the best time to really go all out and decorate each part of your home. It can be something as fun as a balloon garland, yard signs and lots of twinkling lights. My plan is to also decorate my son’s bedroom with some festive signs, hanging lanterns, cute animal figurines and lots of great new Hajj books to read.
Host a Virtual Henna Party
Before covid, ladies and girls would have henna parties. They would decorate their hands with henna, dance, have lots of great food and enjoy each other’s company. Unfortunately, that may be harder this year, a virtual henna party can still be done with friends. Also, make mini henna kits and sending them to friends before the party is another great way to have everyone get together virtually.
Host A Drive-by Eid Party At Your Local Mosque
Since people cannot be inside the mosque, another great way to get to see the mosque in person but be socially distant and have fun, is by having a drive-by Eid party. Pop up some tents at various locations around the mosques parking lot and have cars drive-by. Each tent can have some treats such as kids goodie bags, ethnic sweets, balloons and greeting cards. You can even ask mosque goers to decorate their cars to bring out the joy in the holiday.
Host an Eid Trunk Or Treat
One idea that I have in mind for this Eid is to host a trunk or treat with friends. Essentially using the mosques large parking space, each car can park 6 feet apart and be decocted for children to go around “trunk or treating”. Also setting up a cute photoshoot area would be an ideal event to have for families all while social distancing or wearing masks.
Reenact The Special Hajj Pilgrimage
One activity that I Love having my boys do is going around our home and collecting items. We usE these items to make a setup of the city of Mecca and to “play” the steps of Hajj. It’s a great way to teach kids about Hajj while playing and acting out the scenes.
Host A Virtual Eid Party
Last summer, my sister got married and moved to another state. Unfortunately, she cannot be with us in Indiana to celebrate. My boys thought of an idea to send her a “party in a box” for her and her husband to celebrate with us virtually.
Find a Local Farm in the Area for Adhiyah
This may not be a “new” activity for most Muslim families, the performance of adhiyah (sacrifice of an animal). Most families have their go-to farm but discovering a new local farm around Indiana will make the holiday exciting and may even help teach our non-Muslim friends about this holiday.
Make Cards or Desserts For a Local Nursing Home
As Muslims, we love sharing some of our delicious desserts with neighbors and friends. What better way than to give to a local nursing home who may not be seeing visitors at this moment. Having kids make greeting cards and sending some delicious ethnic desserts will bring such joy to the most vulnerable group of people right now.
Host a Social Distance Picnic or BBQ
With the warm weather, what great way to celebrate than a fun picnic meetup at the many local parks around Indy. Or another great idea is to host a socially distant BBQ at your backyard, park, or any open space. You can even add a “kid zone” full of bubble, water balloons, kiddie pool, and much more fun outdoor experiences.
Order an Eid DIY Cookie Kit
At the beginning of the pandemic, we saw lots of local bakeries offering many “kits” there were cookies kits, donut kits, pizza kits and so many more. A fun way to get the kids to celebrate is to order a custom EID cookie kit from an area bakery. I originally had done this for the first Eid, and it was a hit with my boys. They absolutely loved decorating their cookies.