Eid al-Adha in Sri Lanka
Eid al-Adha, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims in Sri Lanka. In the local language, it is referred to as "Hajj Festival" or "අළුත්අළුත් උලෙළ" (Aluth-Aluth Ulela) in Sinhala and "பெருநாள் திருநாள்" (Perunaal Thirunaal) in Tamil.
Eid al-Adha falls on the 10th day of the Islamic lunar month of Dhu al-Hijjah. Since the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, the date of the festival changes every year, moving approximately 11 days earlier in the Gregorian calendar. The exact date is determined by the sighting of the moon, which varies from country to country.
The history of Eid al-Adha in Sri Lanka can be traced back to the arrival of Arab traders and settlers who brought Islam to the island. It is believed that these early Muslim communities began celebrating Eid al-Adha in Sri Lanka as early as the 7th century. The festival commemorates the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Isma'il (Ishmael) as an act of obedience to God's command. However, God intervened and provided a ram to be sacrificed instead, symbolizing the importance of faith and submission to God's will.
National customs for Eid al-Adha in Sri Lanka
Eid al-Adha in Sri Lanka is marked by various customs and traditions that are observed by the Muslim community across the country. The day begins with a special congregational prayer called the "Eid Salah," held at mosques and prayer grounds. This is followed by a sermon where the story of Ibrahim and Isma'il is recounted and the significance of the festival is emphasized.
The main custom of Eid al-Adha is the act of Qurbani, or animal sacrifice. Families who can afford it will sacrifice a goat, sheep, or cow, with the meat being divided into three parts – one for the family, one for relatives and friends, and one for the poor and needy. This act of charity is considered an essential part of the festival, as it promotes the values of compassion and sharing within the community.
In addition to the Qurbani, Muslims in Sri Lanka also engage in various acts of charity, such as donating money or food to the less fortunate. Visiting family and friends, exchanging gifts, and preparing special meals are also common customs during Eid al-Adha.
Local customs for Eid al-Adha in Sri Lanka
While the customs mentioned above are observed by Muslims across Sri Lanka, there may be some variations in practices depending on regional and cultural differences. In some areas, traditional Sri Lankan sweets and snacks, such as "kiribath" (milk rice) and "kokis" (crispy rice flour cookies), may be prepared and shared among family and friends.
In addition, local mosques and community organizations may organize special events and programs to bring people together in celebration, such as communal meals or cultural performances. These events help to foster a sense of unity and belonging among the Muslim community in Sri Lanka.
Eid al-Adha is a significant religious occasion for Muslims in Sri Lanka, serving as a time for reflection, devotion, and charity. Through its various customs and practices, the festival emphasizes the importance of faith, compassion, and community, values that are deeply ingrained in the Sri Lankan Muslim community.