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Kairi Aun / Alamy Stock Photo

Celebrating Eid al-Fitr in Oman

Explore Eid al-Fitr celebrations in Oman

Just as Ramadan ends – the holy month when Muslims fast – Eid al-Fitr begins. It literally translates as ‘feast of breaking the fast’. And as you can imagine, it’s an extravagant and jovial celebration.

But how do Omanis celebrate Eid? I spoke to travel and documentary photographer Kairi Aun to find out.

Always start Eid al-Fitr with a prayer

As is traditional, sunrise heralds the first prayers of the day. For Omanis on Eid, this is often done outdoors in large communal spaces.

This is the first of five prayers for Muslims. It was once said that Muslims should pray 50 times a day. After all, praying is how one would connect with God. Fortunately, this was reduced to five which is quite the commitment already.

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Kairi Aun / Alamy Stock Photo

A social trip to the market

Eid al-Fitr is big day. So you’ll find families in their finest clothes as they make their way to the market. It’s a very social occasion where you can expect to bump into friends and family.

Children are given money to buy new toys and wives receive a new piece of jewellery from their husbands. It’s a time of celebration but also a time of gratitude and blessings as everyone comes together to appreciate those closest to them.

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Kairi Aun / Alamy Stock Photo

Let the race begin

Camel and horse racing is when the celebrations kick up a gear. Hundreds gather for the festivities.

Kairi tells me: “There are some many different racing categories. Some are about speed, but the main event is about riding skills. There are even camel beauty competitions where the most beautiful camels can fetch a high price on the market.”

As you can imagine, the dust and noise create quite the furore. Spectators watch on in anticipation of exceptional skill from riders and unprecedented speed from their steeds.

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Kairi Aun / Alamy Stock Photo

Dancing with swords

Men also love a good dance during Eid. The weapon dance is called al-ayyala (also known as yowlah). It was traditionally a Bedoiun victory dance but now it’s performed at weddings, Eid and other celebrations.

Groups gather to sing and dance in unity producing lilting harmonies that rise and dip as swords glide gracefully through the air.

To help preserve the cultural dance, the al-ayyala is on the UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage Items of Humanity. It’s hoped that this will help the dance be passed on other generations.

 

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Kairi Aun / Alamy Stock Photo

A celebration with food

As with any celebration, food is crucial. Children can be found browsing an eclectic selection of sweets at the market and food is shared throughout.

After all, everyone has just gone through a month of fasting, so now was the time to feast. Eid al-Fitr is very much a social affair and you nothing is more social than sharing food.

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Kairi Aun / Alamy Stock Photo

In a world where everything is becoming more digital and remote, perhaps the world needs more celebrations that bring people together in the real world.

Muslims certainly think so. That’s why they have another celebration called Eid al-Adha a couple of months after Eid al-Fitr.

For more travel stories by Kairi Aun, visit the Nomad Games or the Mongolian Ice Festival

Matt Yau

Matt started off as a live music photographer covering up-and-coming bands in Brighton, and since then has become enamoured by the power of pictures. With a penchant for storytelling, he's on a mission to uncover unique images from the Alamy library and tell the story behind them.

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