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Eid Celebrations at Kesho Leo!

Eid Celebrations at Kesho Leo

Tanzania'€”a country made up of many cultures, people, traditions and festivals, all coexisting to respect one another and their faith.

It is also a place of many religions including Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and other Indigenous religions, each celebrating their faith with special events and festivals throughout the year.

Wednesday 31 August 2011, marked one of the most important celebrations/ event in Tanzania and Islam, Eid al-Fitr (The Day of Giving), a festival signifying the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan.

Ramadan, is a time where Muslims across the world fast from sunrise to sunset for 29-30 days, only taking in food and water after dark. It is also a time for prayer, reflection and introspection and to remind people of what life is like for those less fortunate.

As Ramadan nears to its end, the celebration is timed according to the full cycle of the moon'€”if sighted on day 29 of the lunar cycle, fasting will end and 2-to-4 days of celebrating and feasting begins with family and friends (no matter what religion). If the moon is not observed, fasting will end the following day of the lunar cycle.

Eagerly anticipated, there is quite some excitement in each community as many gather around their radio, television or mobile, awaiting confirmation that the new moon has officially arrived in the night sky.

The beginning of Eid in Arusha saw the streets scattered with people radiating with joy and dressed in their best clothes and shoes. Women and girls in their bright beautiful kangas (vibrant and colourful fabric skirt wraps) that created a confetti of colour as they walked. There were little boys and teenagers showing off their new sneakers and shirts bought especially for this day.

The mosques were filled with worshippers dressed in traditional attire'€”long white kanzu (robes) and a small, white, rounded hat with elaborate embroidery; and the Islamic women dressed in long black dresses (buibui) covering their heads with a hijabu (black cloth). The crowded Dala-dala's (local mini buses) weaved through the streets and dirt roads filled with people eager to meet and visit their family and friends to exchange gifts and give special alms (such as money or food) to their fellow neighbours in need.

Amongst this atmosphere of cheer, welcome and compassion, the fws volunteers and Kesho Leo Mamas and kids, were invited to celebrate this special occasion with Mudi Salim, fws Tanzanian Kesho Leo Manager, and his family.

A huge feast was prepared with the help of the Mamas, offering Tanzanian Pilau (spicy rice with meat), curried vegetable stew, kaanga ndizi (fried banana), cabbage salad, fried potato wedges, cucumber salad and watermelon, pineapple and fresh bananas for dessert. Such a lavish and generous meal is not typical for Tanzanian families and guests (mainly due to its expense) but was certainly relished by all.

In speaking with Mudi, who has been fasting each year for Ramadan since the age of 5, he holds this event very true to his heart and says '€œEid is a time for celebrating with all people including those who do not have anything. It is a time of giving, it is a time of loving, and it is a time of feeling for other people.'€ Eid was also of particular significance and celebration for our fws'€™ Social Welfare Manager, Elmina, who contributed her time and care by making a traditional Bosnian sweet, Baklava, and presented the dish and a basket of a fruits to the Salim family at Kesho Leo.  

It was an incredible honour to share in this special occasion filled with such happiness and generosity and cannot wait to experience the many other cultural traditions and festivals that make up beautiful Tanzania.

Eid Mubarak Watanzania wote na asante sana'€”Happy Eid to all Tanzanians and thank you very much!

Did you know…

Eid al-Haj (also called Eid al-Adha'€”Festival of Sacrifice) is the Islamic festival of the annual pilgrimage, or haj, to Mecca.

It is the second major holiday of Islam and a three-day festival of feasting and celebration in all Muslim communities in Tanzania. Eid al-Haj remembers Ibrahim (Abraham in the western tradition) and his son Ishmael (Isaac in the western tradition), who was almost sacrificed to God in obedience with his commandments. For Muslims, this holiday is about sacrifice, faith, and honouring the prophet Ibrahim.

During this Eid, there is no fasting rather just a celebration. Each family sacrifices a goat or sheep to commemorate the sacrifice. A third of the meat is given to the poor, another third to family and friends, and the final third is kept by the family to be served in a lavish meal.

Gifts are exchanged, prayers said and sermons attended, and after family and friends have visited each other the celebration culminates in a feast. Any family members or friends who made the pilgrimage to Mecca that year are welcomed home with much rejoicing. During the night there is live Swahili taraab music and much rejoicing.