Eid in Yemen [Archives:2006/912/Front Page]

January 16 2006

Yasser Al-Mayasi
Eid Al-Adha is a religious occasion, which Muslims celebrate around the world in different styles. Muslims welcome Eid Al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice) as an important occasion to be exploited for purifying their souls, visiting each other and consolidating solidarity and cooperation. The days of Eid undoubtedly have a distinctive taste to compensate for the suffering of people in the Arab and Muslim countries, where each community have their own style to enjoy the occasion.

People in different areas of Yemen differ in their reception of Eid and their customs and traditions are not identical. Over the last few years, religious occasions in Yemen and the joy associated with them has been influenced by the economic situation, as well as the average per capita income in the country. The average per capita income defines the limitations of enjoyment that the people can reach, and the Yemeni markets in the rural areas or in the cities become crowded with shoppers as the Eid draws nearer. Roadsides and streets appear flooded with commodities and goods needed for the occasion. In these markets, particularly the popular ones, people of low income can not buy any cloths and other Eid-related articles. As a result, people of low income do not care for quality, as most of the markets seem to be flooded with poor-quality commodities and articles illegally smuggled to the Yemeni markets. Despite the fact citizens know that these commodities are smuggled, they prefer them for their cheap prices.

Abduljabbar, a government employee said that he bought all the Eid clothes from the popular markets and vendors since they are cheaper and new. He confirmed that his salary can only cover the cost of any clothes sold by vendors and that he is sure that these clothes are durable, and they make children happy regardless of their quality. Popular markets and roadsides are not only flooded with clothes, but also with all kinds of sweets, chocolate and child toys, particularly firecrackers which sometimes cause numerous problems and health risks to children. Despite the large quantities of imported sweets in the Yemeni markets, the Yemeni raisin is judged the best kind of sweet to be eaten during the days of Eid, in addition home-made cakes.

Skyrocketing prices of cattle

Due to the deterioration of economic situations over the last few years, the majority of Yemeni people, mainly the poorest categories stopped buying sacrifices and eating meat on the occasion of Eid. As the sacrifice (qurban) is a proper Sunna in Islam, the prices of cattle: sheep, goats and cows climb as Al-Adha Eid draws nearer because of the rising demand for them, causing obstacles to people of low income.

The price of sheep ranges from 10 to 30 thousand Yemeni Riyals (from 50-150 US dollars while prices of cows fall between 30 and 100 thousand Yemeni Riyals, equivalent to 200-500 US dollars. Eng. Mohamed Abdu, who works in the implementation of projects run by the Social Fund for Development (SFD) in different parts of Yemen, affirmed that during his travel to different provinces before Eid Al-Adha he noticed that the prices of cattle consumed on this occasions run high, be the cattle sold in rural markets or cities. Most of the people share the purchase of cows and big bulls and then divide the flesh among them, each person according to his finance. He attributed such prohibitive prices to the rarity of livestock in the country and holding up the sale of cattle until the Eid draws nearer. Coming back to some habits associated with Eid in Yemen, we find that the majority of people in the cities travel to the countryside to spend the Eid vacation with their families. Tawfiq Al-Humaidi, who has business in Sana'a, stated that he has to travel to the countryside to spend the Eid vacation with his family, confirming that the habits of Eid in the countryside are better than those in the city, as the former is far away from the noise of traffic. Spending the Eid days in the countryside makes you feel as if you are living in a one family. Some of the joyful habits practiced during Eid in Yemen are the sessions for the Eid days to exchange tales and talks. Large quantities of qat are consumed on this occasion.

The countryside in Yemen has a special taste and style where people gather in certain places to perform popular dances. One of the rural habits associated with Eid is that people visit their female relatives after performing the Eid Prayer. Men with their children visit their female relatives and shake hands with them and offer them Asb (money given to women by their male relatives). Children also get the same Asb when adults visit them. This habit has been inherited from one generation to another since the ancient times. Among the prominent Eid habits in Yemen is performing the Eid Prayer in public yards and fields, in addition to shooting at specific objects to know who is the best marksman.