Eid-al-Adha (Hajj)

The mosque is a flurry of action with the fragrance of sandalwood assaulting your senses courtesy of the many Muslims bustling about, incense sticks and prayer books in hand. The atmosphere rings true with fervent prayer and serenity, with Muslims reciting prayers from prayer books at the prayer hall, a vast carpeted room with little to no furnishings.

The ‘Feast of the Sacrifice’ is in honour of the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (a messenger of God) to sacrifice his son pertaining to God’s command. As the story goes, God intervened and an angel was sent to ensure a sheep was sacrificed instead. Henceforth, an animal sacrifice (either a sheep, goat, cow or ram) is an annual tradition where the meat is shared between the family, relatives and the poor.

Waking up at the early hours of dawn, Muslims make ‘wudu’ (a purification ritual) and offer the pre-sunrise prayer. Clad in brand new attire, Muslims flock to the mosque to partake in the customary Eid al-Adha prayer and sermon, clusters of devotees huddled in devout prayer on religious carpets on the floor. The traditional pouring of oil over the lamp and lighting of incense sticks galore takes place. After the ‘salat’ prayer is observed (1 of the 5 basic acts of Islam) the Imam (one who leads Islam worship service) delivers the sermon.

Gifts are exchanged with the occasional festival greetings ringing through the air. Family get-togethers are arranged and it’s a time of celebration and all around laughter.

Interesting Facts

  • As per Islamic law, men should go to the mosque to offer the Eid prayer albeit it’s not compulsory for women, who offer prayers in the confines of their home
  • Certain mosques such as the Dewatagaha mosque are open to the general public whereas others are limited to members of the Muslim community
  • As per religious obligation, women are clad in shalwar kameez (baggy trousers and long shirt), abaya (long cloaks which are sometimes worn with a veil or scarf) or attire which covers their heads, hands, shoulders and legs specifically. Most of the women in the Muslim community opt for full body coverage with the exception of their eyes which remain visible due to the belief that men might be led astray or tempted as a result of women failing to wear decent attire
  • ‘Zakath’ is offered during ‘Eid Al-Adha’ where money, food or clothes are given to the poor
  • The Dewatagaha mosque (Sheikh Usman Waliyullah Shrine) is considered the grand mosque, with hundreds of people paying their respects to the shrine. Women are not allowed to enter the shrine room
  • This August, the ‘Dewatagaha mosque’ reaches a milestone of being over 200 years old with the celebrations spanning a period of 14 days
  • The festival marks the end of Hajj (an annual pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca). Around 3 million Muslims travel to Saudi Arabia for Hajj every year

With Muslims being in Sri Lanka for over a 1000 years and the Arabs having introduced Islam to the coastal regions in the 7th century A.D, it’s safe to say the revered event has been an annual tradition in Sri Lanka for 100s of years

Title image by: KnowSL

Date and Time

Sep 01, 2017




Cultural and Religious

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