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Amal Hassan (right) and her nephew during a visit to her friend Manara’s house for Eid. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Eid Al Adha is an Open House period for Emiratis and expat Muslims in the UAE as they keep their houses open for people to drop in without taking prior appointments to join their families in sharing the festive spirit and greeting each other.

The tradition has been in practice across different cultures for generations and several UAE residents still continue to keep it alive.

Eid Al Adha’s festive spirit sets in with the day of Arafat when Muslims fast, said Dr. Tasneem Jamil, deputy managing director and director of medical affairs at the Prime Healthcare Group.

“Traditionally, we break the fast with some close friends who performed the Haj with us,” she told Gulf News.

Hailing from India, Dr Tasneem’s family has been living in Dubai for 25 years and they still follow the traditions of Eid unless they are travelling.

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Dr. Tasneem Jamil (third from left) with her Eid guests. Image Credit: Supplied

“Sheer Kurma which is a special vermicelli sweet dish is prepared the previous night of the Eid as our family and friends prefer it chilled. On the Eid day, my husband (Dr Jamil Ahmed) and our son attend Eid prayers. My daughters and I get ready for the day after our prayers.”

Visiting Dr Tasneem’s parents, who also live here is the next routine for the entire family to greet them and seek blessings from them.

“After greeting our parents, Dr Jamil visits the majlis of our Emirati friends and business associates. We then get together for family lunch where we enjoy the Eid over our traditional homemade Biryani along with my parents. In the evening, we have an open house when all our friends and relatives visit for exchanging Eid greetings.”

Whether it is in the majlis for men at Emirati houses or the visits of relatives, friends and colleagues at her own house, people of different nationalities and beliefs getting together to share the festive spirit is a great example of social integration and tolerance among different communities living in the UAE, Dr. Tanseem observed.

“It is accepted that anyone can come. They don’t need to inform. Generally they don’t inform also. It is a practice for generations.”

Similar tradition has been followed by Jordanian expat Amal Hassan, assistant operations manager with GEMS Education.

“Visiting each other is an integral part of Eid celebration,” she said.

In her culture, she said, people exchange Eid greetings starting form morning after they finish their prayer and until late evening they visit each other’s places.

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Zeeshan Ali Shahid, visiting his grandmother and getting eidiya. Image Credit: Supplied

“We go to them and they come to us sometimes on the same day itself. If the guests come at night, sometimes we spend the whole night together till early morning. On the second day of Eid also we visit each other.”

In charge of the accommodation complexes for the GEMS support staff, Amal also shares the festive spirit of Eid with the women workers by visiting them in the ladies’ accommodations.

Eidiya

Apart from making special food, presenting gifts or cash as eidiya, especially to children, is also important on Eid day, she said. “We make them feel special and make them happy with gifts or cash. It doesn’t matter whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims. I also gift my neighbour’s children.”

Receiving eidiya is the most exciting part of Eid for children, agrees Zeeshan Ali Shahid, who just completed grade 12.

A Pakistani expat, Zeeshan said he and his three siblings usually count the cash they received at night after the visits of relatives and family friends at each other’s houses.

“Apart from the elders’ blessings, the money we get really makes us happy. So, we like people coming to our house with eidiya and we get it when we go to their houses also.”

But, visiting his grandmother is also a special Eid memory that Zeeshan always cherishes.

“On Eid day, we meet and greet many people including strangers after prayers in the morning. It is a nice feeling. But, meeting our grandmother is very special,” the teen said.