Eid celebrations in Nigeria (2)

God bless my MJ- this is what she wrote



When I think of eid at home, I get Goosebumps of excitement! The northern part of Nigeria is considered the more Islamic region of Nigeria as a result of higher population of Muslims than any other religion, so you can imagine what a religious festival like Eid would be! Amazing!!

Preparations start from the beginning of Ramadan. Parents and their children are found in the market choosing eid clothes which are usually ready-made clothes for infants and traditional fabrics for children and adults(such as shaddah, laces, materials, atamfa etc). Eid preparations involve the tailors mostly; every tailor in an area gets busy during this time! (Even the unskilled ones! lol). Few days to Eid, the mothers get busy preparing the homes for the big day and this includes decorations (my mum always changes the position of our sitting room!) and employing more house-helps (temporary) to help in the kitchen. Not only is the house prepared but also the children! For the girls, their hairs get plaited usually and apply henna (lalle) on their hands and feet. For the boys, they get a new haircut. The mothers are not left behind too; they undergo all forms of beauty treatment from head to toe!

On the day of eid, everyone wakes up as early as possible and dresses for the eid prayers. Usually mothers and ladies don’t attend (a tradition that is stepping on the saying of the prophet SAW!*smh*). Anyways after the eid prayers, we all return home and prepare for the durbar! This is one of the most interesting events during eid in the northern part of Nigeria…

Durbar has always stood out from other ceremonies in Nigeria. Other cultural events have declined but durbar has increased in strength! The people taking part in durbar represent the foundations of Hausa society; it serves as a way for people to pay homage to the emir. Durbar as an event takes place in almost all the northern states of Nigeria but that of Kano state stands out!

After the prayers at Kano’s main eid ground located at “kofar mata”, all district heads, village heads and other traditional title holders accompany the emir on horseback. They ride past kofar wambai (one of the historical gates of Kano state) on their way to the palace to meet the executive governor of Kano state and officials of the government. The emir delivers his sallah speech to the people of Kano. The audience could see chivalry, sentinels, archers, dancers, drummers, gunmen, singers and acrobats amongst thousands of mounted horses and a few camels(actually we were told as kids that the camels represent the wives of the emir since they are not allowed to ride on horses and accompany the emir!)

very colourful

Over 2,000 horsemen enter the durbar square in the front of the emir’s palace representing the 44 local governments in Kano state. Horses ad their riders wear resplendent costumes, the riders in multi-colored robes and turbans carrying ceremonial spears, knives and guns! The horses wear colorful headdresses. Sitting on rooftops and cars, hanging on tress and packed into the square are the audience (about 60% of the entire citizens of Kano city!). The air is filled with sounds of drums, trumpets, gourds filled with beads, long bugles, wailing pipes and the movement of hundreds of dancers! Stilt walkers and clowns dressed in outlandish wigs and rags also entertain the crowd.  

Horsemen in full traditional costumes gallop at high speed and pull up abruptly near where the traditional rulers are positioned and they raise their spears and swords in salutation. Then they veer either to the left or right to make way for the next group’s high-speed approach. What a beautiful display of the very best of cultural heritage! Interestingly enough, this is a five day long festival except that it occurs in different venues during the other days (giving opportunity for the other residents in satellite villages to witness the event!)

After the durbar, we all return to our homes and the celebration continues. The delicious traditional Hausa meal is prepared on eid day- “Tuwon shinkafa miyar Taushe”! Other meals are added such as jollof rice, masa, sinasir etc. Snacks are also prepared together with drinks (usually zobo drink). Family and friends dressed beautifully in their traditional attires come visiting and pictures are taken all day long. Another funny tradition is the “barka da sallah”. This is a phrase usually said by Hausas amongst themselves on the day of eid and even few days after. Literally it means “happy sallah” but today “barka da sallah’ has another meaning especially from children to adults. When a child says barka da sallah to you as an adult, that child expects a token (for wishing you well on eid! lol). It’s usually a meager amount of money and must be a “new note” for that child to appreciate it! That’s why parents ensure they have new notes of smaller denominations as one of the preparations for eid! Just like giving candies on Halloween.

For the whole week after eid, we dress in our beautiful traditional eid clothes and visit each other as families. Some families go to the park!


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