Saturday, April 6, 2013

Eid(s) with Pixie

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 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!
After the breakfast everyone heads to the Eid grounds. There is the khutbah, the prayer, and a bunch of kids selling drinks, toys, and food. Afterwards we go to my co-wife's Aunt's house for some saffron tea, and the men go to make the Eid sacrifice/deliver any sadaqah ect... Since the poor--- poorer than those Omanis in our village---are majorly the migrant sub-continent workers living here (majorly male). Also, men will start cooking the "shuwa" which is Omani sheep or cow meat in spices, wrapped in Banana leaves, that is buried in the ground to slow-cook on a bed buried red-hot coals for over 24 hours.
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.
In the late afternoon, is tourists' to our villages favourite event---the men's traditional dances and songs and sword fighting. I love the swords but I'm not too big on the drums. But alas, whenever I go, it isn't a "sword" time. The kids also sometimes play traditional games at this time. If the men aren't here, they are playing volleyball or having a shooting contest, or taking their families to see wadis. I like to see the Eid down in Al Hamra sometimes. They have horses down there.
 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.


Stacy aka Fahiima said...

Wow MashaAllah. Thank you so much for sharing all of this! I think the Omani traditions are really unique and beautiful. I absolutely love the idea of village life and the sense of community that you have there. I doubt that I'll ever have the chance to visit such a village, so at least you let me experience it vicariously!

Umm Ahmad said...

Salam alaikum sister, thanks so much for taking the time to put together this post. I found it so neat and it really made my day, masha'allah.

Umm Ahmad

AlabasterMuslim said...

Asalaamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu,
Whenever you put pictures of Oman, I'm always drooling over the architecture. I love sustainable living and soon inshallah am going to start building my house (a mud house or straw-bale). The picture of the majlis is my absolute favorite mashallah and is definetly an inspiration. Any time you want to make a post on the building materials (clay-soil, and sand no doubt) and anything related feel free!! Lol.
Oh and your daughter is adorable mashallah. I think she is only a month younger than mine, if I remember correctly.

AlabasterMuslim said...

Oh and one last thing- how is your henna so dark!!! Mashallah! I hope not by chemicals?

muslimah mummy said...

WOW Gorgeous photography. I loved this post, I feel quite sad though because me and my hubby so want to move to a islamic country ( I know that all countries "muslim" or not have there own issues), we live in Glasgow,in a flat and although there is alot of muslims in this part of town theres not much to do, and the weather is usually cloudy or rainy. We would love to have a simple lifestyle surrounded by muslims,just enjoying our kiddies in the sun, hearing the adhan called daily which I have never heard done as Its illegal here, so I use a computer generated one.
Your pics are fab...Its lovely to learn about others cultures and lifestyles. I love reading about your family and co wife, its refreshing to hear about the realities of these marriages rather than the media propagated theories. xX

Anonymous said...

The little girls with their henna are just precious. And your daughter is cute, I bet the whole family is totally in love with her.

Pixie said...

Stacey: Thank you for liking.

Pixie said...

Umm Ahmed: Wa alaykom e salaam ramatullahi wa barakto, thank you sister for taking the time to learn about Eids in my region of Oman.

Pixie said...

Alabaster Muslim: Wa alaykom e salaam, my SIL's henna is Sudani, mine (when black) is not henna---it is me drawing on my hands with pens lol. Washes off at the first touch of water. Something I often do when bored in the car.

The houses are made of stone and mud brick so I know it is not so cheap to build like these old Yemeni-style structures... but not overly expensive either. It will cost us 3-9000 OMR to fix our old home if we want to add modern bathrooms ect and the wall that it is falling down on one side. That's alot for us.

I know one technique to make stronger but less flexible mud is called sarooj. They coat forts with it or line wells that need to be waterproof (unlike the pure mud and hay bricks). They burn the bricks, crush them into powder, andf make like a mortar and it is always a burnished red colour if you've mixed it correctly.

Pixie said...

Muslimah Mummy: Why thank you. Sometimes I miss Muslim life back in Canada too sometimes.

But yeah, never the rain lol.

Pixie said...

Anon: I hope so. The other little girls are adorable. I love my neice Yuminah. She's a catch;)