The holy celebration of Eid Al-Adha is a special time for Muslims when we celebrate the Prophet Ibrahim and his devotion to God. But not so in Shepparton, it seems.
I woke up in the early morning in Shepparton to prepare myself to get ready for Eid prayer. I took my son with me, wearing our traditional costumes to the Mosque. It was seven o’clock. When we got there the Mosque was empty. I thought we had arrived early so I called my Sudanese friend. He told me that they had prayed the previous day, which meant we missed the Eid prayer. He was at a mosque but not the one we usually prayed in; it was the Shia mosque, which belongs to the Iraqi community. We joined him there, finished the prayer and after a bit of chatting, I took my son to the swimming pool for about an hour and then to childcare. When my wife came from work at the end of the day, we went to Kids Town and that was the only time we celebrated together as a family.
Eid Al-Adha is something like Christmas is for Christians. But in Australia there is no real Eid. It is so different to what I remember in Sudan. It is not exciting. I have none of my close family here. Most people in Australia are not Muslim. I talked to one of my Sudanese friends who has been in Australia for many years, and he said, “I just go to work in Eid, it doesn’t matter because there is no Eid in Australia”.
One family that has lived in Shepparton for a long time told me that they got used to not celebrating traditionally and they can’t do anything to change it now.
When I lived in Sudan, Eid was something special. I remember going to pray at the mosque with my dad early in the morning. After praying, we came home to prepare for breakfast. Breakfast in Eid is very special. I helped my Dad to prepare a clean spot outside and then he would cut the throat of a sheep while I held its legs. We had to let the blood drain and then cut the meat up to cook. Our whole family got together to share the meat of our sheep and we would give some meat away to others.
After we had our breakfast, all families would go around to neighbours, relatives and friends, visiting and sharing food. It was so exciting because most people who had been living overseas would come home for Eid so you could see people you hadn’t seen for a long time. The Eid celebration lasted three days and nobody worked. They just spent the time having fun with people they cared about. Everything felt so exciting and everyone was celebrating.
Now I live in Australia and I have had one Eid-Al-Adha here. But it is nothing like what I remember from Sudan. I feel really sad about this. I miss the Eid from Sudan.
Eid is a really important festival for Muslims. Celebrating by sacrificing sheep shows that you are devoted to God like Ibrahim. I feel like I can’t do this here and it makes me feel like I am losing a part of my religion and my culture. In Australia, there are laws about keeping animals and preparing food so I can’t just sacrifice the sheep in my backyard. I can’t spend the time with my mum and dad and brothers and sisters because they all live too far away and I can’t afford to travel to see them. I can’t visit friends and relatives and neighbours because there is no holiday for Eid like there is in Sudan and everyone is working or going to school. The worst part is that most people in Australia don’t even know that it is Eid, so there is no feeling of celebration. In Sudan the whole country is celebrating together, but in Australia no one cares.
I will celebrate Eid at home with my wife and my son. I am worried about my son. He is going to grow up without a real Eid. He is not going to feel excited about Eid like I did when I was little. I wish that all Muslims in the community could get together to celebrate Eid properly. I wish we could get together and take days off work to really celebrate properly. I wish we could not lose this part of our culture. One day, I will take my son Kareem to have Eid in Sudan so he knows what it is like.