Monday, December 2, 2013

Eid Ul Adha!

Eid Ul Adha is the Muslim celebration that marks the end of the Hajj pilgrimage. Eid Ul Adha is considered one of the biggest celebrations in the Islamic calendar lasting for six whole days. To compare, Eid Ul Adha is like Christmas Day for Christians. A day celebrated with your family and friends remembering God. I was very saddened to find out that I would be missing Eid with my family on this trip but I have truly gained a second family here in Ghana. 

Wearing my traditional Arabic Abaya, I started the day making my way down to the local mosque to pray the Eid Prayer. When I got to there I was surprised to find the mosque empty, so I asked one of the locals in the shop next door to find out where everyone has gone. He told me that everyone went to the park because there will be a lot of people attending the Eid Prayer.  People from neighboring villages are coming down to Sandema which is the central meeting point for Eid Prayer in the Builsa district. 

As I made my way down to the park, I received Eid Mubarak greetings (Happy Eid) from the locals – who were Christians themselves. This made me smile inside. J People greeted me and said things like ‘How is your day?’ ‘Hope you are enjoying your day’. The ‘your day’ part means the day of celebration of your religion. People were so respectful of my religion and it made me smile to see other people making an effort to wish me well.  The level of respect for different religions in Ghana is absolutely incredible to see. The atmosphere is so beautiful with Christians and Muslims living peacefully together side by side.  

When I reached the park I was amazed to see the turnout of what I assumed to be around 400 Ghanaians!!!! They travelled from neighboring villages– Wiaga, Fumbisi, Navrongo, Bolgatanga – to Sandema to pray. I sat down in a little corner waiting for the prayer to start. Ghana is a friendly place and I wasn’t surprised that I made a few friends in the park. After waiting for what seemed like forever, we finally prayed the Eid Prayer and boy was it worth the wait!!! It’s like a home away from home. Listening to the Imam, being surrounded by people that are all dressed up in their best clothes I felt like I was home. 

After we finished there was a guy selling prayer beads for only 1 cedi so I thought I’d take this opportunity to buy some for my family and friends back home. As I cycled my way back home I was overwhelmed at how many people greeted me with Eid Mubarak and showed their appreciation even if they weren’t from the same religion. When I arrived home, the team were all so excited to greet me and wish me a happy Eid. Kerris – my favorite roomie and my hilarious partner in crime – gave me a very cute Eid Card which I’ve stuck up on my wall and haven’t taken down since! 

I called my family and we said our emotional greeting. They read me a little prayer on the phone - which I quickly teared up to being the emotional wreck I am! haha They also told me that the whole family will be going to Pizza Hut and to have a big feast - SO JEALOUS!
Anyways, the day was going well and everybody was just lovely. We – my IS team and the Canadian interns – started making preparations for dinner / feast. The objective of the mission was to make as much food as possible and stuff our faces. Kevin – the Canadian intern – made a whole range of potato based dishes such as mashed potato, chips. Sean and Ali made a delicious curry stew which we ate with bread. Poppy – my amazing and wonderful team leader – made gravy and garlic bread that were essential elements of the feast! I made slowly cooked chicken and vegetables with potatoes. Siobhan and I tag teamed on the pasta – I made the sauce and she made the pasta. We also got sausages from my favorite local kebab shop so we could have bangers and mash! This was a massive feast and it was no surprise that everyone had a belly ache the next day from excessive eating! 

Before we tucked into the food, there was time for a little speech. As I looked around the table at all the wonderful faces that came out to celebrate my day, I was overwhelmed with emotion as I truly felt as though I gained a second family out here in Ghana. It is a common misconception in society that religion is used as a tool that divides people but this could not be further from the truth today. We should use religion to unite us instead of dividing us! Thank you to my team and the Canadians for making me have a very special day and to all the locals that wished me a very wonderful day! :) 

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