I wanted to write about Eids in Oman for a while now but just never got around to it. Besides the fact that it is difficult to photograph since people in our village don't like photos of anyone from our family on the internet...I just thought I'd wait for this upcoming Eid and try to get photos for everything I am missing. But today I thought, I wish it was Ramadan, and Eid was coming. I don't know why. I just did. So I decided to post about the Eids I've had here, as bad a post as it is like to be.
Since most Omani women from my husband's village use a tailoring service, Eid preparations usually begin a month before the actual Eids. Omanis usually buy three sets of new clothes for Eids. That means for women getting at least one abaya and three caftan/jalabiayias/and or traditional Omani dress tailored, three dishdashas for any boy-child and for the husband (if he can't manage this himself---which fortunately most Omani men can). I can't really imagine my father at the tailor. He hates malls so a dude measuring him and then him having to wait a week or more for his purchase and picking it up...yeah, no. Anyways, baby girls and girl children usually just buy pretty style Western clothes from brands like Monsoon, and Carters, but some mothers actually do manage to get traditional clothes tailored for their little ones as well. And for my daughter as well, what great Aunties she has, mashaAllah! Unlike a lot of sisters, I don't really dress fancy for Eid. The village life is a simple one and I feel too flashy even in what I'd wear to work on a normal day in Muscat. What I consider Eid-wear the village considers bridal wear lol... so. Plain black abaya, non-statement accessories, and tonnes of floral Arabic dresses are more the norm. The men also have some shopping to do, for knives and coal to cook the Eid sacrifice, bullets for traditional rifles (they always shoot their guns off in the late afternoon don't ask me why), and palm frond woven sacks for cooking the traditional Omani Eid dish "shuwa" in.
Eids for us happen in my husband's (and my co-wife's) traditional village. Which means about a 2 and 1/2 hour drive ordinarily, which would be no big deal if....it didn't rain every freakin' time I go to the village. Rain on Omani roads is a big deal. Visibility in the middle of a rainstorm---zilch. Omani drivers who never see rain---practically stop driving or speed like inane morons. Mudslides, flooded roads, flashes of lightening and thunder, and big boulders tumbling off cliffs to squish our tiny car are all the result of whenever I go to the village. Omanis still call the weird spats of rain a blessing. I don't care how long I live here, having grown up in rainforest, I will always prefer blue skies and sunshine. Which, alhamdulilah, always appear when we reach my husband's mother's ancestral village (his mother and father were not cousins, oddly enough, despite the rampant cousin-marriage situation in our village).
We almost always first stop at my husband's mother's house. Occasionally my co-wife will take off with her sister (who is married to my husband's brother) to see their mother (also a second wife) who lives in our village about 15 minutes up the mountain from my MIL's place. My MIL is a widow, and she grew up in Oman before times changed in a 400 year old mud-brick house. She was a 2nd wife to an Imam (my husband's father was a Shaykh) after his first wife fell very ill, is illiterate, but despite, is surprisingly able to cope with change [i.e me]. This is an admirable quality which I don't have. I wish I could show you a photo of her but she absolutely 100% wouldn't like it.
From my MIL's house we either usually go to visit his oldest brother, the head of the family, in the village, or his second youngest brother and his wife, A, who is my friend. I like to stay with them but I wish we had our own place in the village like my co-wife does which makes longer visits easier on her. Plus, I don't have any family there so I don't like to stay that long, as only my friend, K, who is an English teacher, who I met through her sister, whose husband is best friends with my husband----although we are not related at all--- actually likes to speak English to me. Everyone else besides K and A, even my SILs don't manage that well over more than a few hours. So, I like to go to K's MIL's house when we do henna. They are, like, the nicest family ever. They live in my MIL's village, the one she grew up in as a child, only the modern part of it. The old village is already uninhabitable ruins.
At K's MIL's one of her sisters (or cousins) usually does my henna. We visit far too long, eat far to much, and laugh too much. Her mother-in-law always always always forces my husband to sit and eat even if it is his second supper before he picks me up, or else we are tricked into taking mountains of food in the car. She will also try to henna one's feet, so one cannot just stand up and go. It is traditional Omani henna, and usually the children get their hands balled with fists of it, and then tied with cotton cloth until it dries so their palms are stained bright orange by the morning. Usually after all this visiting, by the time the henna is dry, it is time to sleep.
First thing in the morning before fajr, we all wake up, put on our new clothes and then the adhan is called, and we pray. Then we head up to the village to my husband's oldest brother's house where we eat a traditional breakfast of harees (not the pepper) and kids and women get given Eidiyia money to spend on candies and new toys after the Eid prayers. There is alot of handshaking, standing, and cheek kissing to do, and everyone is dressed in their new clothes. The kids are so cute, the women are very glittery with crystalized house dress cuffs peaking out of the folds of their bright printed house scarves, and every house maid is happy because even if cheapo people like me don't get them gifts, lol, on Eid somebody nicer does!
Back at the houses women visit and kids play until lunchtime. We snack on Arabic "qahwa" which is bitter "Seelani" coffee, fruit, and dates. My daughter chases the neighbors chickens and stray cats and runs away from her million cousins.
Sometimes, when it comes time for lunch, I stay with my SIL and her MIL, other times, I go with my husband to his brother or mother's house. I usually don't like to eat lunch this day, for no real reason. Maybe all the travelling, and things to do, and see, make me lose my appetite, I have no idea. Lunch is usually chicken or cow on a bed of rice with a massive salad.
Usually after lunch everyone will have a nap. If I don't, I will usually sneak off with my husband to see his childhood home in the old village...or to a wadi/swimming area in Bahla. It is nice and relaxing to just sit and drink tea or refreshing to swim after the hectic last 48 hrs.
After the nap is over I would either nap or go with my co-wife and her sister to my MIL's house to prepare the mishkeek, which is lamb or beef cubed and slathered in kiwi juice, garlic, chili powder, turmeric and ginger, and then spitted, and barbecued. My husband and his brothers will barbecue it. It is the most delicious food in Oman. That's just my own personal opinion, which has been backed up by numerous Canadian friends.
In the evening it is family time, eating, playing with kids in the yard. Sometimes my MIL will hack some coconuts open so everyone can enjoy some fresh cocnut juice and we'll just sit outside in the courtyard of the yard before bed. The next morning the men gather in a big majlis room called the village "sabla". This day, after ther men's "qahwa" my husband might take me to see some surrounding sites or he might take my co-wife visiting. Depends whose day it is really. If it is my co-wife's day I'll visit some of my friends, or my sister-in-laws [I have nine in the village during the Eid], and later we'll all take lunch together.
That is pretty much the Eids in the village. I only stay on average, until the day the "shuwa" meat is served, and then I head back to Muscat. I just feel comfier sleeping in my own bed, and not having to wear a hijab/house scarf all the time. My MIL likes us to stay at least until a traditional Omani breakfast is served of Omani bread with egg and cheese or like an Omani pancake with date syrup or honey. After that, is generally the long (and always hot) drive back to Muscat.
On the drive we stop at a few gas stations to buy snacks (mmm icecream and popcorn) or coffee shops along the way (sandwiches), and also at a Mosque I happen to like. When we finally reach home sweet home my daughter is always hyper with her new toys, running around our majlis and living room, copying what she saw and experienced in the village, and practicing any new words or expressions she learnt from her cousins. It always still a government-long weekend still when we arrive back in Muscat so we take advantage of the nigh abandoned beaches and malls. That is pretty much my Eids in Oman. What are your Eids like? I love to know about other peoples' traditions.