EID in the Yemeni Countryside [Archives:2001/52/Culture]

December 24 2001

Saad Sharif Tahir
Nadirah /Ibb
The two great Eids in Islam are lesser Baiam (Eid il fitr) and Coban Baiam [Eid il adaha.] Muslims highly celebrate them because they come after obeying Gods two big orders e.g. fasting and pilgrimage as expressing their joy. After Ramadan when Muslims all over the world fast the days of the month, pray (Teraweeh) at night and concentrate worshipping during the last ten days comes the lesser bairam which people call (Al-Eid Al-Sagheer) [the short eid] because it officially lasts for three days. People make it five.
In villages, on seeing the crescent of showal (the month after Ramadan) or hearing the news of the eid via radio or TV people burn fires on mountains to express their happiness. In the past such fires were signs of declaring the eid. Women start to prepare cakes and sweets while kids have shower and prepare their new clothes which their parents bought at the end of Ramadan. Men prepare themselves to perform salat il eid [prayers of the eid.]
In the morning men, accompanied by their kids, go to open yards to perform prayer and in certain cases like in rainy days the prayers are held in mosques. After that they exchange congratulations saying Kul aam wentum bikheir [many happy returns of the eid] or Eidukum mubarak [happy eid for you].
Then visits to relatives are paid. Almonds, raisins and sweets are served. Children wearing new clothes like to play false bullets and go around houses to congratulate the inhabitants. Women give them sweets and sometimes money which is called, Awwada. Men come back home for a nap and lunch then setting for local halls to enjoy chewing qat.
Corban Bairam which people call, Eid il kabeer [the long eid] because it officially lasts for four days but people make it ten, comes on the tenth of Zul-hijja when Muslims pilgrims complete their religious rites in Mecca. It is also an occasion on which Muslims slay sheep or cows as sacrifices to their late relatives.
After eid prayers, such sacrifices are slain and meat is distributed among families as a sign of social unity and love. People exchange congratulations. On the second day, villagers visit villages in big groups accompanied by drums and local folkloric teams that dance the baraa with jambias. Some wear masks of animals like lions and sheep. Those dance at random while men who wear brides cloths called jewari [slaves] dance with rhythmic movements with their faces veiled.
On the third day, the villagers who were visited pay a visit to their visitors and do the same dancing and so on.
This continues for five days. Sometimes villagers from different villages gather in the center of the town to perform a big choral dance of baraa.
On this eid officials in big cities go to their home town to participate these celebrations with their relatives, therefore, such cities lose their charm to certain extent. Weddings are arranged during eids and that make eids more gala.