I consciously shut out the thoughts of us being alone without our family on Eid-ul Adha. I kept busy with the big move to keep my mind from wandering as I could not deal with the loneliness we would feel – it would be our first Eid without our family around us.
When we arrived in France on the 2nd August, my main mission was to get us settled in quickly and transition from South Africa to France an easy one, especially for the children. I kept pushing Eid plans one side as I was not ready to deal with our new reality. Usually, in Cape Town, I would start chatting with my sisters about three weeks to begin prepping Eid lunch dishes and desserts. We will then decide who will be cooking what food and who will be bringing what dessert, so for me to be organizing NOTHING was abnormal and very weird! For anyone who knows me will know why, haha.
About a week before Eid, I started thinking about the traditions and norms we have in Cape Town and wondered what it was like here in France. I could not ask anyone as I did not know anyone, so I went to social media to find out, but I got no response in my quest to find out how people celebrated this special day here. The night before Eid, we went to the mosque, and hubby asked the men what time Eid salaah would take place, and I had to google about the qurbaan procedures. Qurbaan’s are done in authorized abattoirs only – anyone caught having it at their homes could be fined or jailed for up to six months – seriously?!
Eid celebrations are usually a big thing in Cape Town, especially in our family. Our children are fortunate, Algamdulillah, to alternate between families for the different Eid lunches. It’s all about family, good company, lots of food, joyous moments, desserts, and, more importantly, about the children receiving money and gifts from the adults. So with these traditions and norms imprinted in my children from small, I was now on a new mission. It was to ensure that I made every effort to make it still feel like the norm at home but just without our family.
So in my quest to make things as normal as possible, I went to the shops on the Saturday before Eid to get the lunch stuff. I decided to make a leg of lamb with veggies and buffalo wings and salad as the heat was unbearable, and therefore we went with simple, easy dishes – dessert was fruit salad and a variety of ice-cream. I went to the shops the night before to get the children some nice summer clothes to wear as all their previous Eid clothes (that we brought with) were winter outfits – perfect for Cape Town weather but not for when its 45 degrees outside!!! I got sweets, nuts, and chips for the breakfast table (people from Cape Town will know how important the breakfast table is on Eid haha), and algamdulillah, our Eid prep was underway and right on track.
We got up for fajr and then stayed up to get ready for Eid salaah – children showered and put on their Eid clothes with their salaah tops over it. Now generally in Cape Town, the men would get done for mosque while the ladies stayed behind in the kitchen to start lunch, put their pies in the oven, sort out the morning breakfast table with sweets, treats, nuts, fruit punch, and oven pie, etc. So getting done for the mosque and leaving with hubby was surprisingly a refreshing start to the day! We got to the mosque and saw so many people, lots of women with children from various backgrounds and countries like Malaysia, Turkey, Nigeria, France, etc. Algamdulilah I felt a sense of belonging. We all were there with one common identity: our beautiful religion of Islam, algamdulilah. There were security guards at the mosque’s gates to check everyone’s bags, and my girls were a bit scared as the place was crawling with police and army vans. Algamdulilah, as soon as we passed all of them, we could hear the Takbeer and instantly felt a sense of peace and tranquility. At the entrance to the ladies’ side, they had nibbles on a table for whoever wanted, and before the salaah started, ladies were handing out sweets to the children.
After mosque, I started with our lunch, and the girls sorted out the breakfast table. I put the pie in the oven (which is a MUST in my house!) and algamdulilah, we had a lovely peaceful day. After 6pm, we took kids to the water park just to cool off a bit.
It was a beautiful day, but we really missed seeing everyone and saying slamat in person. The next day we managed to call everyone via Whatsapp and algamdulilah just like that the day was over.