Celebrating Eid away from home
By: Abdulateef Al-Mulhim
After the end of the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims around the world celebrate three days of Eid Al-Fitr marked by interesting and exciting events. While celebrating Eid, we mainly share happiness with close relatives, extended family members, neighbors and friends. Children usually get money (Eideyyah) from their elders. In other words, Eid is a religious event, but it is at the same time a family gathering. So, what would one do during the three days of Eid if he/she is away from home?
Just before the end of Ramadan, I and my family left Saudi Arabia and traveled to the American capital, Washington DC, to be with my eldest son during Eid. He is an ER doctor doing his residency at George Washington University Hospital. He has been sent on scholarship by King Fahad Specialist Hospital in Dammam. Before my arrival to Washington, I was wondering how I would spend Eid in the American capital. I thought I would mostly stay at my son’s apartment with the family.
Later on I found out that the Saudi Embassy in Washington had lined up events for all Saudi citizens from the DC area and its surrounding cities on the Eid day. So, I decided to go. Shawwal moon was sighted Sunday evening (Saudi time) and Eid was celebrated on Monday. There are many mosques in Washington DC and Muslims observe their religious festivals respecting the sentiments of others. During Eid prayer or Friday prayers, policemen direct traffic flow around the mosques.
After Eid prayer early Monday morning, I headed to the Saudi Embassy. When I went to the main lobby, I was surprised to see a large number of Saudi men, women and children. They comprised diplomats, Saudi tourists and students studying in the US under the Saudi government scholarship program. The gathering was huge and the event was very well organized with plenty of food.
During the event, Saudi Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir was present chatting with the guests and taking photos with the young and old. The young Saudi ambassador is known for his capabilities to deal with the most difficult issues in the capital of the world’s superpower. He is a highly educated and talented politician. He is soft spoken, but with solid approach to major issues that concern Saudi-American interests. During the function itself, the ambassador took time to solve issues of many attendants who sought his assistance. The programs at the Saudi Embassy were enjoyed by all those present. At the embassy everyone felt at home.
The next day, which was the second day of Eid, I was in for another good surprise. The world’s famous two European football teams, Manchester United from the UK and Inter Milan from Italy were on a US tour and they were supposed to play on Tuesday in FedEXField in the state of Maryland, not far from Washington. My kids bought me a ticket and we watched the game at the stadium. Watching a sport’s event in the US is different. It is a family fun. The stadium was packed with more than 60,000 spectators. I was very surprised to see so many fans for the European teams in the US and even more surprised to see so many Saudis at the stadium. At the end of the day we all know that it is true that Eid celebration is different at home, but, people who are away from home can celebrate Eid and have fun too.