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Holiday Guide

Eid-ul-Adha - Celebrating with food, family & friends!

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There’s something inherently beautiful about festivals, and holidays. They make you smile continuously. They make you want to be your best self. Eid-ul-Adha, the second Islamic holiday celebrated by Muslims around the world brings the same joy, and sentiments.

The three-day festival was held on September 24, 2015. It marks the end of Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, and the largest religious gathering on the planet. Eid-ul-Adha is also known as the Feast of Sacrifice, commemorating Prophet Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son, Ishmael. It is an account found in every major holy book from the Holy Quran to the Bible.

Through this feature we’ll take you to Pakistan and Sudan, and showcase how both countries celebrate Eid. You’ll see the leitmotif of food, family, and friends emerge. And, oh yes, notice the continuous smiles in the pictures.

For Pakistanis this Eid means a feast of meat dishes. From curries to rice to roast entrees – not much adorns the table that doesn’t have meat in it. Goat is a favourite, with beef a close second. In Canada, sometimes deer dishes make an appearance due to hunting season.

Biryani – a traditional party entrée with rice and meat dominates the menu. Nihari, slow-cooked beef, often overnight, is another party favourite. A rich dish with bone marrow in it, the entrée is a must for Southeast Asians, especially Pakistanis. Haleem rounds out the heavy menu, which features a mixture of lentils, and meat, also slow-cooked, and often overnight also – it is just what makes Eid complete.

As families, and friends gather, beautiful women dressed in gorgeous traditional Pakistani outfits, the kameez, tunic style shirt, and shalwar, loose pants – gather to organize the feast. Henna tattoos smile on palms, while bangles adorn wrists. Even men, and youth dress up in traditional attire – though their outfit colours, and designs are considerably subdued.

For the numerous Pakistani, and Muslim families in town it is a blessing to have three Halal meat shops in Fort McMurray. In fact, Halal meat is even available at Extra Foods, and Superstore as well. Halal refers to kosher meat for Muslims, and is mandatory for Muslims. Atlas Foods, a Pakistani store in Abasand carries traditional spices, and grocery items, which can also be found at Mediterranean Foods downtown, next to Fuji Restaurant.

“This is about being together, and having fun,” explains Sumaira Wajid, who hosted an Eid-ul-Adha dinner party for friends, and hails from Lahore, Pakistani. “We are so far away from family, our friends become our family,” she added.

Muna Ali agrees. On the other side of town, she hosted Sudanese friends. Her apartment has become their home away from home.

Muna is from Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. And, has been in Fort McMurray for 10 years. The traditional Sudanese menu for Eid features many ingredients not available in town. About 20 Sudanese families live in the region, and depend on one another, or visiting relatives to bring in traditional spices.

“We make salata, which is a potato salad, and mulah, an entree made with spinach and dry okra, a novelty item made with the top portion of the okra. The bread is called kisra, which is similar to naan, but takes hours to make, because the texture is hard to master,” Muna explains.

In addition, the menu featured Kamonuia, a lamb intestine dish, made especially for Eid, and lamb shaya, which is a sautéed entrée eaten with Basmati rice. 

Muna’s friends were dressed in the traditional Thobe – a long garment, about 4.5 metres long, wrapped around the body, and used as a hijab, the Islamic head-scarf. It is specifically thrown over the left side to look elegant. Distinctively noticeable were the dark henna tattoos on their hands. The dark colour came from double coating the henna. Plus, Mahlibia is added to the henna, which is an oil-based perfume.

Both Sumaira and Muna agreed celebrating Eid may not be the same as in their countries, but being with friends makes a world of difference.

“I started hosting Eid parties last year, and want to continue. It’s worth the hard work to be surrounded by smiling friends,” Muna said. 


Kiran is a national award-winning communications specialist, freelance journalist, and social media consultant. She loves telling community stories, and is a strong advocate for inclusion, diversity, women’s rights, and multiculturalism. Got story ideas? Contact her via Twitter: @KiranMK0822.