Eid in Jeddah
Over three million Pakistani-Indian Muslim expatriates in Saudi Arabia celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr with zeal and fervour on Thursday 8th August 2013. After four weeks of a soul-enriching Ramadan, the Eid festivities starting from Chand Raat (the night before eid) to the three days of Eid are packed with age-old customs, cultural rituals, and social events.
For Pakistani and Indian expats, each and every aspect of Eid in Jeddah is strikingly similar to how Eid is celebrated back home. There is no need to be home-sick. We have everything right here in Jeddah to cure your nostalgia.
Our guest contributor Rohail Khan relays a personal and detailed account of the festivities and celebrations of Eid in Jeddah, written exclusively for Jeddah Blog.
Chand Raat in Jeddah
On the 29th of Ramadan, children and elders are keen to sight the new crescent in the sky, visible just after the maghrib prayers. Excitement builds as the sky grows darker. This year, we all got lucky since around 7.30 pm the Saudi Government promptly confirmed the appearance of the Eid crescent.
Canons and fire-crackers loudly confirmed the arrival of the Eid crescent. TV channels were flooded with festive announcements. Relatives and friends began calling, texting and greeting each other via telephone. It is an important tradition to call one’s parents and overseas relatives to congratulate them and seek their blessings on chand raat, an equally important night for special prayers and duas.
While most souqs and malls in Jeddah are packed with Saudi and multi-cultural shoppers, Pakistani-Indian expatriate families prefer to shop in Aziziyah, a modern residential-cum-commercial district in central Jeddah. Southall in London, Queens in New York, Artesia in Los Angeles and Dundas in Toronto are the desi areas for South Asians. In Jeddah, we have Aziziyah where you can find everything you may ever need for the Eid season. Whether you hail from Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad or belong to Delhi, Bombay or Hyderabad, Jeddah’s Aziziyah offers you the best of Pakistan and India.
Chand Raat is a special occasion for guys and girls alike. Everyone, especially children and teenagers, are excited in anticipation, particularly about what dress to wear on Eid day.
Ladies are keen to go out for last-minute shopping which includes visiting the tailor, buying formal and semi-formal dresses, matching their dupattas (scarfs) and chooriyaan (bangles), purchasing shoes, perfumes, cosmetics and accessories. Beauty parlours are packed with ladies anxious to apply mehndi (henna) on their hands, and last-minute hairdos and beauty upgrades.
The menfolk are determined not to be left behind in chand raat shopping and celebrations, typical items being kurta shalwar, saleem shahis, khussa shoes, fruits and mithayee (South Asian sweets). Of course, getting kachoris is a must for the next day’s Eid breakfast.
Eid Day and Eid Season in Jeddah
The hectic proceedings of chand raat does not allow the folks in Jeddah to get any sleep. Besides, the Eid congregational prayer is held early in the morning at 6am. Hence, just after Fajr prayers, all families dressed in their new clothes go to their nearest Eidgah for the Eid namaz. Unlike most South Asian cities, the ladies in Jeddah are fortunate to be able to accompany the men for Salaat Al-Eid.
Early in the morning, just like back home, the main roads of Jeddah are packed with needy and poor people waiting to receive the Fitra payments.
In Jeddah, we have more than 55 Eid Gahs held in stadiums, open grounds and mosques. Expatriates from Pakistan and India normally attend Eid congregations in the Aziziyah, Rehab, Safa, Ashrafiyah, Baghdadiyah, Qandhra, Salama, Zahra, and Rawdah neighbourhoods.
Eid namaz and khutba is conducted promptly between 6.00am and 6.30am. Afterwards, most families visit each other’s homes. People exchange Eid greetings and treat their guests to delicious homemade sheer khurma, siwayyaan, kachoris, kababs, mithayee, and fruits.
Eidee is gifted to children and loved ones. Sadly, the historical tradition of exchanging Eid cards is dying down.
Around noon, people arrange a desi lunch. Their favourite dish is usually nihari naan and pulao. The next best thing is a deep sleep in the afternoon.
Just like back home, the Eid season and celebrations last for three days.
In Jeddah, most families visit the Corniche in the evenings. Watching the sunset and enjoying long drives along the 30 kilometre seaside extending from South Jeddah all the way up to North Obhur and beyond Khaleej Salmaniya is everyone’s favourite activity.
Jeddah’s beach proudly boasts the world’s highest fountain at the Corniche opposite the Hotel InterContinental. Jeddah’s fountain is higher than Geneva’s lake fountain ! The Jeddah Marina is an upcoming venue for open-air exhibitions and children’s shows by the sea.
For Pakistani-Indian families, one-dish parties and open-air barbecue by the sea are a cherished norm. We have green parks and corridors all around Jeddah. Children’s main demand in Eid evenings is to be taken to toy towns. Here, the ever-famous Shallal, Atallah, and Chucke Cheese are the best spots where you can spend hours enjoying roller coaster rides and video games.
During Eid season, the days are spent visiting friends and relatives while evenings are spent eating out. Based on your mood and taste, the best restaurants around Jeddah are Yildizlar, Byblos, Le Ciel, Le Bistro, Goodies, Tike, Red Lobster, Segala, Uptown, Il Porto, Barnies and Bharat. Popular fast-food joints, after Al-Baik Broast, are McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Applebees and Chillies.
Hanging around Jeddah’s famous Malls until late night is another recreational activity preferred by the youngsters and newly-weds. Favourite spots are the Mall of Arabia, Red Sea Mall, Haifa Mall, Roshana Mall, Tahlia Mall, Al-Andalus and Al-Salaam Malls.
Eid Mubarak to you and your loved ones !