Monday, 20 August 2012

Bajram 2012 in Bosnia!

Hundreds of Muslims in Zenica pile out into the area
adjacent to the local mosque for the Eid prayer
in Zenica's centre, August 19, 2012.
(Source: ZenicaBlog)
Well, for those who don't know, this year's month of Ramadan officially came to a conclusion on Saturday evening, which meant only one thing (not true, it actually meant a number of things, but y'know...); the following day would begin Bajram!

Bajram - or 'Bayram' - is actually just the Turkish term for a national holiday; the specific celebration of yesterday is worldly-titled 'Eid-ul-Fitr'. It is, perhaps, the most important day in the Islamic calendar; though, in fact, it can be celebrated over two or, even, three days. (Remember, I told you the other day that the most important night is Laylatul-Qadr.)

So, what actually happens on this day?

Because a large proportion of my readers are Catholic-Australians, to help you better understand I have to make reference to our own personal traditions, and state that this day draws many similarities to the day of Christmas.

The long-standing tradition, at least here in Bosnia-Herzegovina, is for families to get-together and enjoy lunch and coffee together.

Because it is forbidden in Islam to fast on this holy day (if you were planning on making up for missed days during Ramadan); large feasts are ensured.

I had the opportunity to accompany my partner to her family lunch; and, it has to be said, I had a fantastic time! The similarities between this day and how people celebrate Christmas in Australia really were striking to me.

However, there are some traditions which somewhat differ to Christmas in Oz.

Firstly, it is as though it is almost compulsory for every Muslim male (regardless of how truly religious they are) to attend prayer at the Mosque early in the morning; this is known as the 'Eid prayer'.

Therefore, the mosques here in Zenica - and, I am sure, all over the world - were absolutely jam-packed, with people pouring out onto public squares and streets just so they could pray.

Check out how many people attended a mosque in Zenica's 
centre for yesterday's 'Eid Prayer':

It should also be noted here that it is obligatory for every Muslim to provide some form of charity to the poor  or needy in the period prior to Eid-ul-Fitr - unless, of course, they have a good reason not to, such as they are poor themselves.

A second tradition revolves around gifts. It is much more common for people to give money (10 or 20 KM seems to be the norm) rather than some other tangible present. Usually, the money is just provided to children and the like; adults don't really seem to gift each other as such.

Children certainly enjoy seeking money, too. Our apartment doorbell didn't stop ringing all day with children coming to ask for money! This is accepted, though, and many people are happy to give a bit of their change. Personally, it reminded me a little of Halloween, and the tradition of door-knocking and asking for chocolates or such.

Also common is for people to wear some new clothes, such as a nice shirt, for the day of Bajram. My partner bought herself a dress, whilst I got my hands on a new Lacoste polo (I looked pretty good, I must say!).

Muslims of all ages across Bosnia-Herzegovina turned
out for the Eid Prayer yesterday morning.
Finally, but certainly not least, another popular pastime for this day seems to be for people to blow up as much firecrackers as they can. I am not exaggerating when I estimate that the number of exploded crackers in Zenica alone, until now, must be in the thousands.

Even now as I write this, a day after the main celebration, the explosions persist. Perhaps somewhat ignorant, but I swear some of these sounds are people firing bullets into the ear, or something similar!

Nonetheless, as my first Bajram experience, it was an extremely enjoyable day.

Although my belly is a tad over-blown with food, I have two months and 10 days before I do it all again for the next Bajram holiday, 'Eid al-Adha'.

Maybe it will be a good idea for me to get in shape before I place myself in front of that much amazing food again!

I am honestly looking forward to it, and will update you all about it, again, when the time comes.

PS. Expect a report in the coming day or so as I digress my thoughts on my first ever experience with Ramadan.

Thanks peeps. Hvala vam!

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