Eid al-Adha which is also popularly known as Bakr Eid or Eid-ul-Zuha is celebrated in the month of Zil Hajj or Dhul Hijjah with much fanfare by the Muslim community all across the globe as it comes nearly two months after the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr, the one which arrives after the holy month of Ramazan. Considered the second most important festival of Muslims, the day marks a sacrifice of cattle – goat, sheep, camel, buffalo in whatever number a person can afford.
Eid al-Adha is a prime festival for the Muslim community and is celebrated for three days globally. It honours the willingness of Prophet Abraham who, when asked by God to sacrifice a thing dearest to him, readily agreed to sacrifice his son, Ismail, according to Islamic, Christian and Jewish texts. Pleased with the readiness of Abraham and courage and faith of Ismail, God replaced the boy with a ram which was then sacrificed by a blindfolded Prophet Abraham. In honour to the divine incident, Eid al-Adha is celebrated for three days. The festival of Bakr Eid marks the sacrifice of Abraham. God had provided a male goat to Abraham to sacrifice, as a substitute for his son. As per God’s instructions, the male goat was then divided into 3 spares. The poor were offered one-third of the share and another portion was given to friends and families. The residual one-third portion was retained by the family of Abraham.
Unlike the Gregorian calendar followed by the West, the Islamic calendar is lunar that is, based on the moon. The starting day of Hajj is the eighth day of the lunar month of Dhul-Hijjah, which changes on the Gregorian calendar every year and ends on the 12th day of Dhul Hijjah.
This year, Eid-al-Adha will be celebrated in Saudi Arabia on August 11 and in India on August 12.
The second Eid or Eid-ul-Adha also marks the end of Hajj, the pilgrimage that takes Muslims to the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Rooting back to the time of Prophet Abraham (PBUH), the pilgrimage is held following the instructions laid down by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which are the re-enactments of the sacrifices and obedience of Prophet Abraham to God almighty. The importance of this event is to seek the blessings of surmountable spiritual rewards and erasing of all previous sins if the Hajj is performed successfully. Hajj gathers millions of Muslims across the world in a spirit of unity and brotherhood.
The annual Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia enters its climax when Muslims gather at Mount Arafat to offer day-long prayer and recitations from the Quran. The pilgrims gather at Mount Arafat, around 15 km from Mecca for one long day and live in tents from dawn to dusk. Mount Arafat has a great significance in Islam because according to the texts, Prophet Mohammed gave his last sermon at the location.
Muslims across the world celebrate the day by sacrificing a goat/ram/buffalo/camel and dividing the flesh among relatives and friends. They keep one-third of it and distribute the rest to the poor and the needy. Sacrificing of the animal is done between dawn to dusk and that is the only timing to be followed for Bakr Id. It creates an equal amount of euphoria among Muslims as the one created during previous Eid. For self-sufficient Muslims, it is imperative to sacrifice cattle or a bovine animal. While the major portion of meat is meant for distribution among the poor, a significant amount of it could be retained for holding feats with friends and relatives. Following the congregational prayers in the morning, the festive environment would takeover Muslim localities, with kababs and tikkas forming the order of the day.
The community exchanges gifts and greetings. Eid al-Adha is considered a gazetted holiday. The festival is celebrated by wearing new dresses and offering special prayers.
The festival is celebrated across the world with different names. In Urdu and Hindi languages, Eid al-Adha is called Bakr-Eid. In Uzbekistan, Eid al-Adha is celebrated as Qurbon Hayiti. In Bangladesh, it is called Idul Azha. In Bengali, it is called Kurbanir Id. In Egypt, Eid al-Adha is celebrated as Id ul Baqarah.