Sunday marked the beginning of Eid al Adha 2011, the first day of the three-day religious holiday for Muslims worldwide to celebrate Prophet Abraham's sacrifice with mass prayers, feasting of meat and sweets and well-wishing and tranquility.
Celebrated annually on the tenth day of the last Islamic month and 70 days after Ramadan, Eid or the Festival of Sacrifice feast begins after the Hajj, the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca by Muslims.
The celebration of Eid al Adha commemorates the Prophet Abraham who sacrificed his son Ishmael by command of and obedience to Allah. Tradition states God sacrificed a sheep to Abraham for his willingness in return.
Celebrated over three days until sunset of the 13th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, people enjoy feasts like shuwaa, mashateek, harees and arsiyaah, according to the Oman Daily Observer. A special meat is reserved for part of the celebration each day: On the second day, people eat mashakeek, and on the third day, they eat shuwaa cooked underground for lunch. Flavorful meats are divided into three parts and shared with others, according to Muslim tradition.
While eating of meat is part of the holiday, many criticize the sacrifice portion of the holiday. According to Huda, Islam Guide: Throughout the celebration of Eid al-Adha, Muslims commemorate and remember Abraham's trials, by themselves slaughtering an animal such as a sheep, camel, or goat...By saying the name of Allah at the time of slaughter, Muslims are reminded that life is sacred. The meat from the sacrifice of Eid al-Adha is mostly given away to others. One-third is eaten by immediate family and relatives, one-third is given away to friends, and one-third is donated to the poor. The act symbolizes the willingness to give up things that are of benefit to Mulims or close to their hearts, in order to follow Allah's commands and their willingness to give up some of their own bounties, in order to strengthen ties of friendship and help those who are in need.
Children typically wear colorful dresses and exchange sweets, small gifts and money while visiting and playing with friends and family.
Eid al Adha is celebrated by Muslims all over the world, notably in Ukraine and Russia, who call it Kurban Bajram or Kurban-Bairam.
The Kyiv Post reported that Ukrainian Muslims, which total somewhere between 400,000 and two million people, congregated on the first day to celebrate Eid and Islam.
The Associated Press reported 170,000 Muslims knelt to pray in Moscow on Sunday, with temperatures of minus 8 degrees Celsius, or 18 degrees Fahrenheit.