Eid al-Adha, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, is one of the two holiest Islamic celebrations, observed by Muslims around the world. In 2023, Eid al-Adha will be celebrated on June 28.
Its date is determined by the Islamic lunar calendar, falling on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah.
In the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, Eid al-Adha is not a public holiday. However, it is a gazetted holiday in India.
Meaning of Eid al-Adha
The word Eid can be translated to mean festival, holiday, or celebration. Adha means sacrifice (as in, animal sacrifice) or offering.
It is a common greeting to say 'Eid al-Adha Mubarak', which translates as 'Have a blessed 'Eid al-Adha'
The Story Behind Eid al-Adha
In the Quran, it is stated that Ibrahim was having dreams about sacrificing his son Ishmael. He took these dreams to mean that God was testing his faith and devotion and told his son Ishmael about the dreams, who answered that his father should do what he was told to do.
To prove his obedience to God, Ibrahim was willing to sacrifice his older son and began preparing to do so. During the preparations, the Devil attempted to dissuade Ibrahim from following God's orders, but Ibrahim refused him, throwing pebbles at the Devil to send him away.
Just as Ibrahim was about to commit the sacrifice, he was stopped by an angel, Gabriel, who sent him a lamb to sacrifice instead of his son. This was an acknowledgment from God that Ibrahim was willing to sacrifice his son for his faith.
On Eid al-Adha, Muslims commemorate the significance of Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son to prove his devotion to God, as well as the fact that Ishmael's life was spared. This observance is a Holy Day in the Muslim faith, as it celebrates faith and sacrifice, and the willingness to obey God above all. It is a day of sharing with family and the community, especially those in need. And it is also a day to be grateful to the animals sacrificed in the name of God.
Eid al-Adha Traditions
Eid al-Adha is a day of sharing and community, and so, to celebrate, Muslims offer their prayers at the mosque which must be done in the congregation. When the prayers end, Muslims exchange greetings of Eid Mubarak, embrace one another, and share gifts.
To offer their prayers at the mosque, Muslims wear new clothes, or their best clothes, in a show of respect for the holiness of the day.
Some people will sacrifice an animal to God, this can be a cow, sheep, goat, or ram. They will divide it into three equal parts - one for the family, one for relatives and friends, and the final one for the poor.
Across the country, thousands of Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha by attending services at mosques and going to community gatherings with Muslims from all kinds of backgrounds, who all share traditional dishes from their countries.
Eid al-Adha Celebration in Different Countries
The United States
The practice of slaughtering animals at home, which is a strict custom of Eid al-Adha in the majority of Islamic countries, is not much prevalent in the United States. In case they perform this, they usually assign this work to official slaughterhouses.
Presently, around 3.45 million Muslims reside in the United States, constituting about 1.1 percent of the total population. With people from different corners of the World such as Pakistan, Indonesia, and Nigeria, the food and celebrations are diverse.
The United Kingdom
Eid al-Adha usually starts with ghusl for Muslim residents in the United Kingdom. In Islam, a ghusl is a purification bath performed to cleanse or purify oneself. After this, they wear new clothes and attend the prayer service at a mosque. Fairs and Carnivals are also held in some of the cities of the United Kingdom.
Regarding the slaughter of animals, one has to abide by the British Law which states that it can only be conducted in official slaughterhouses. As of 2021, the Muslim population in the UK is around 3.9 million which constitutes 6.5 percent of the total population. Thus, on this occasion, many initiatives are taken to uplift the Muslim community in the country.
In Bangladesh, Eid al-Adha is also known as 'Bakri Eid' (Bakri means goat) and 'Kurbanir Eid' (Kurbani means sacrifice). The preparations for this celebration begin almost a month before the actual day. Sweet shop owners, Gift store owners, and cloth vendors stock and fill their shelves for customers to buy. Cows, Buffalos, and Goats are the most common animals that are chosen for the sacrificial feast of Eid-al Adha in Bangladesh.
United Arab Emirates
In the UAE, a three-day holiday is given to the residents for celebrating the festival. It also includes the day before Eid al-Adha, known as the 'Day of Arafat'. Cities such as Dubai light up and considerable discounts are offered by different shops, theaters, and malls. Besides this, fireworks displays are also held in many places.
Arab delicacies such as Quzi, Chicken Machboos, Luqaimat and Dudh Khurmo are also prepared and consumed during this time.