Close eye on Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) in Iran: Traditions, customs and must-try dishes- Interview with Cultural Attaché in Algeria

His Excellency, the Cultural Attaché of the Islamic Republic of Iran to thePeople’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, Mr. Djalal Miraquai gave an interviewto « DZ Breaking » on Eid al-Adha’s traditions in Iran. Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice or Greater Eid) is an important Islamicreligious festival that is observed by Muslims world-wide.

Eid al-Adha, Eid e Curban - Sheeps in cattle market

ALGIERS- His Excellency, the Cultural Attaché of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, Sayyed Jalal Miraghaee gave an interview to « DZ Breaking » on Eid al-Adha’s traditions in Iran. Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice or Greater Eid) is an important Islamic religious festival that is observed by Muslims world-wide.

This is one of the two Eid festivals that are celebrated by Muslims, namely; Eid ul-Fitr ( Lesser Eid ) that marks the end of Ramadan as well as Eid ul Kbir ( Eid Al Adha). This latter marks the end of the Hajj, in which millions of Muslims from around the world make the pilgrimage to Mecca and reflect upon the sacrifice and commitment to Allah made by Prophet Abraham who intended to sacrifice his son in obedience to Allah. It is a celebration of gift giving, charity, and fellowship.

Muslims differ in the way they prepare for and celebrate Eid al Adha. Most people, however, make it an occasion of family unity, service to society and supporting one another. Today, we will take a look into the traditions of Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) in Iran. His Excellency, the Cultural Attaché of the Islamic Republic of Iran will shed light on Iranian customs on this day.

• First of all, welcome to this interview. It is a pure pleasure meeting you.

• Thank you. It’s really a great honor to be with you today. I’ve been in Algeria for three years, and I am really honored to be the Cultural Attaché of the Islamic Republic of Iran to your country.

1- Pure pleasure Your Excellency. We would like to seize the opportunity to extend to Your Excellency, Iranian people and the Muslim community our warm wishes and special greetings on the occasion of the blessed Eid Al-Adha. May Allah grant you all health and well-being and bless us with stability and security. Iran, a country of plural identities, civilizational links, and cultural depths, is known for past customs that have been practiced for generations to celebrate Eid al Adha, how do the brotherly Iranian people get ready for the celebration ?

• Well first, again, let me thank you for the opportunity to come and talk with DZ Breaking.

At the outset, I would like to offer my best wishes with the advent of Eid-al-Adha. So, on behalf of the Iranian people and the Iranian diplomatic Mission here in Algiers, I would like to extend my warmest wishes to the people of the sisterly Algeria for a happy Eid al-Adha and to congratulate all those performing Hajj.

On these auspicious days, millions of Muslims worldwide, including Iranians and Algerians, join in this pilgrimage and offer alms to honor Abraham’s sacrifice. Eid Al-Adha celebrates Muslims’ devotion to Allah Almighty and underscores the importance of sacrifice, family, and compassion for those less fortunate, cardinal values that our great religions share.

I’m delighted to celebrate Eid al-Adha in Algeria. I’ve been touched by the warm reception of our Algerian brothers. Eid constitutes a fitting moment for us to reflect on our shared values of gratitude, compassion and generosity that bring us together to work towards a peaceful and prosperous future. Besides, I am very pleased to fulfill my tasks in this country to write a new chapter on bilateral relations and all-around cooperation, which will bring more prosperity to both sisterly countries and brotherly peoples. As you know, in recent years, the two countries have deepened their cooperation and exchanges in different fields, including those of commerce and culture, and we can continue to further deepen their relationship. I would also like to express to Algeria and its people, my sincerest thanks, appreciation and gratitude for their hospitality and, politically, for their firm positions of solidarity and support for the just struggle in the world, in full harmony with the principles of the glorious November 1st Revolution.

As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of Algeria’s independence, I convey to you, my warmest congratulations and best wishes, and through you, to the brotherly Algerian people. Sixty years ago, the Algerian people snatched their national independence after going through an arduous struggle, writing a glorious chapter of the liberation movements worldwide. We are proud of you, as you emerged from a long night of colonialism committed to peoples yearning for peace and freedom all over the world. Glory and eternity to the brave martyrs. Long live Algeria free and sovereign.

Once again, i wish the people of Algeria and everyone happy, healthy, safe and blessed Eid.

Returning to your question, Eid al-Adha or Eid-e-Qorban lasts for two days in Iran. Eid al-Adha or the (Feast of Sacrifice) is determined by a lunar calendar, like other Islamic celebrations. It always starts on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the Month of the Pilgrimage. The date is set when the closest new moon is seen. During the feast, Iranians as all Muslims worldwide re-enact Ibrahim’s obedience by sacrificing an animal, including cattle, camels, sheep and other livestock and offer votive food to the poor and their fellow Muslims. For those who do not know the story of Eid, it is a commemoration of Prophet Abraham’s acceptance of a divine order to sacrifice his son, Ismail. Just before sacrificing him, Allah Almighty provided Prophet Abraham with a ram to sacrifice instead after he successfully passed the divine test.

Eid al-Adha marks the climax of the Hajj pilgrimage with Muslim pilgrims carrying out the final rites of the pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. Hajj is the final of the five pillars of Islam, and is what a Muslim has to do at least once in his life.

There are a number of traditions and practices related to Eid al-Adha; Iranian people, who refer to Eid al-Adha as the “Eid e Curban” start preparations many days before the holiday.

One week before the feast, farmers put their sacrificial animals up for sale. People buy new clothes, accessories for themselves, their families as well as their religious brothers who are poor and less fortunate. Besides, they prepare sweets to please children. For women, setting up the house to receive guests during Eid, a tradition for decades – is a must. Before Eid, women take the responsibility of cleaning the house. Some of them go to the extreme of totally making over the whole house; refurbishing and painting. Iranian women usually buy new cooking utensils, which will be used in cooking the heavy meals and big banquets, and purchase new dishes.

Solidarity actions are organized in Iran for Eid. They are perpetuated each year especially in the rural areas. This practice consists of the collective purchase of sheeps intended for the less fortunate people. On the eve of Eid, families apply henna to the two horns of the sacrificial animal or its forehead, believing that it would be a “good omen.” Girls also get their hands’ palms decorated with traditional henna designs, especially for Turkman and other races.

Furthermore, Iranians observe religious practices that include the Sunnah to fast on the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah, especially the Day of Arafat. On Arafa Day, a day ahead of Eid al-Edha, people held prayers on the campus of the University of Tehran in downtown Tehran, other mosques and open spaces nationwide.

2- How is Eid celebrated in sisterly Iran?

• On the day of Eid, a Muslim is recommended by the Sunnah to have a shower before going to the Eid Prayer and wear the best of his or her clothes. This reflects Islam’s care for cleanliness and beauty. A Muslim should be careful regarding his or her appearance, dress, and personal hygiene.

For clothes, some would wear clothes from their culture, while others would pick out something new to wear.

To celebrate Eid al-Adha, Muslims in Iran go to a mosque, prayer ground, or prayer court to offer special prayers and hear a sermon. Eid prayers are known in Iran as Namaz Eid. Readings from religious texts are also broadcasted. This year, scores of Iranians attended Eid al-Adha prayers in mosques and unroofed grounds across the country after the COVID restrictions were lifted to a large extent as the number of new COVID-related deaths were zeroed. During the pandemic, the Eid prayers, noteworthy, were held with strict adherence to physical distancing and other safety protocols to ward off the spread of COVID-19.

In the capital Tehran, Iranians carry out the congregational feast prayers at Tehran University which have been led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution. Other mass prayers also take place in the capital.

In addition, Muslims are recommended to engage in public takbir (saying Allahu Akbar) in the masjids, market-places, streets, etc. This ibadah (act of worship) connects Muslims spiritually and spreads mercy, peace of mind, tranquility, and happiness. After the prayer, Iranians exchange greetings saying: “Taaat Koboul”; “Mah Allah accept your good deeds”. As the sacrifice is being made, participants recite the name of Allah along with an offering statement and supplication as a reminder that all life is sacred. Later, Iranians feast on the meat of livestock animals that have been sacrificed. The family will eat about a third of the meal, a third goes to friends and relatives, and the remaining third is donated to the poor and needy.

The division of the udhiyyah into three thirds—one third for the family, another for relatives, and a third for the poor—is another brilliant example that shows how far the Adha day implants love and care in the Muslims’ hearts for family, relatives, and for the whole society. The giving of charity in the form of money, food or clothes to the homeless or poor is another key tradition of Eid al Adha.

On this day, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution delivers, each year, aspeech. As for the Iranian Preisdent, President Ebrahim Raisi forwarded a message to the leaders of the Muslim world, hoping for growing unity, rapport and solidarity among the Muslims across the world. President Raisi said in the congratulatory message : “Eidal-Adha is the sincerest manifestation of worship, a symbol of sacrifice and submission in the presence of God, and the day of Prophet Abraham’s (PBUH) pride in the divine test, acceptance of obedience and being chosen as the leader and role model for believers”. The Iranian president also expressed hope that with the blessing of thisauspicious festival, the hearts of believers would become closer to each other under the shadow of the teachings of Islam and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and all Muslims around the world would step in the path of unity and take steps for solidarity in order to increase honor and pride of the Islamic community in all international stages. Back to celebrations, families and friends pay visits to each other. Iranians in disputes will ask each others to make them ‘halal’, an act of asking for forgiveness if they did something wrong to one another. Since Eid is a national holiday in Iran, many Iranians flock to common holiday spots in the country,such as ; the Caspian Sea and enjoy an extended period of relaxation.

3- What are the must-try Eid al-Adha dishes and sweets in Iran ?

• Eid al-Adha is known as the ‘salty Eid’ for food, as a larger variety ofits dishes are savoury and formed of beef or mutton, depending on what animal has been slaughtered. The meat is used to make various kebabs and haleem, astew made of wheat or barley and meat. Alongside the meat-based dishes, Iranians eat baghali, rice with fava, broad beans and dill.

To detail, “Kaleh Pacheh” is basically the head, legs, brain, tongue and the meat of a sheep’s face. This food is very popular among most Iranians, and they usually eat it for breakfast.

Another popular food, especially on this day, is barbecued heart, kidney, and liver of sheep. Sometimes people fried it with a lot of onion and spice as well.

Sirab Shirdoon is also another traditional food made of sheep’s tribe, some grains, garlic, and spices.

• Your Excellency, the Cultural Attaché of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, thank you very much, indeed, for your time and my thanks are also due to our readers.

• You are most welcome. I would like to say that the message of Islam is that of peace to all regardless of their religions and we hope for stability, prosperity and security for all people across the globe. Hajj and Eid Mubarak!

Interviewed by: Hana Saada

Album of photos:

صلاة عيد الأضحى المبارك في العاصمة الايرانية طهران


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