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Expatriates celebrate Eid far away from home

Anith Adilah Othman / Khmer Times Share:
Eid Al Fitr is a Muslim festival that celebrates the end of Ramadan where Muslims observe abstinence from food and water from dawn to dusk. Dreamstime

As the curtain draws on this year’s holy month of Ramadan, Muslims worldwide rejoice as they prepare to usher in Eid Al Fitr – the holiday that marks the end of the month-long fasting.

While the celebration differs across the globe, the day will typically begin with special morning prayers to seek forgiveness and show gratitude to God for granting them the strength to win over earthly desires during Ramadan. In some Muslim cultures, it is also encouraged to seek and give forgiveness among one another.

In conjunction with Eid Al Fitr, Khmer Times spoke to several Muslim expatriates in the Kingdom who will be celebrating the holiday thousand miles away from home.

For graphic designer Zulfadli Zakarrudin, 27, who has only been in Cambodia for six months, this will be his first time celebrating the joyous occasion in a foreign land.

“Celebrating Eid alone would surely feel different but I plan to make the most out of it. I have made a few friends at the mosque so I can still feel the spirit of ‘togetherness’ when I go for morning prayers tomorrow (today),” the Malaysian said.

He, however, lamented that he missed the food back home the most.

“We all know that Malaysia is one of the best food destinations in the region with so many delicious, halal options. During Eid, the food served is ten times better. This year, I’m going to try to make rendang (spicy meat dish) on my own,” he said.

Meanwhile, for some others, it is a time to band together with their closest peers whom, over the years, have become their very own family away from home.

Webmaster Ayman Khalil, 29, for instance, has not celebrated Eid in Egypt for four years now and was looking forward to spending his second Eid in the Kingdom.

“The last time I celebrated Eid in Egypt was in 2015, and last year I celebrated it in Cambodia. Eid is not a national holiday here so it will be a short and sweet one.

“I plan to go for prayers in the morning then hang out with some friends before heading back to work,” he said, adding that he has formed a small brotherhood with other expatriates from Yemen, Tunisia, Pakistan and Indonesia.

Mr Ayman also shared one of his favourite Eid traditions in Egypt: a sweet treat dubbed Kahk.

“It is a small rounded biscuit covered with powdered sugar, malban (fruit leather), walnuts, pistachios or dates and it is delicious. I am not one for food with high calories but I see it is as a reward after completing 30 days of fasting,” he jokingly said.

Mr Ayman added: “I lived in Cairo so Eid would be the time for us to visit our hometown in the northwest, Qalib Ebyar, where all the family members and friends would gather and just enjoy each other’s company. Growing up, the tradition has always been about making memorable moments with loved ones,” he said.

Echoing the same sentiment, chocolatier Haby Agne, 28, said the one thing she missed the most about celebrating Eid in France is her family and friends.

“The toughest part for me is not having my family around. I miss just gathering with all brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews and going to the mosque together. The day before, we would ‘take over’ the kitchen to prepare for Eid. Our main meal has always been sweet potatoes with chicken,” she said.

This year, Ms Haby said she planned to emulate the Eid celebration by baking cakes for a family that she recently met at the Toul Tom Pong Mosque.

“I am fortunate this year to be spending it in a family-esque setting. I think it will be a good one,” she added.

This year, Eid Al Fitr either commenced yesterday or today, depending on the sighting of the new moon. In countries with large Muslim populationss., Eid will be celebrated as national holidays for two or three days.

Chi Saleska, an imam from Kratie province’s Chhlong district told Khmer Times that the Muslim community in Cambodia is happy to celebrate the festival without prejudice.

“Though it is not a public holiday here like other countries, we will nevertheless celebrate with our fellow Muslims countrywide.”

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