This is a guest post from Carolette Alcoran, the owner of thelifestyleofmaria.com, a Freelance Content Writer & Digital Nomad from the Philippines. She writes on a wide range of topics and has worked with startups, corporates, and individuals globally.
How to Spend Eid Holidays in Sri Lanka
A holiday couldn’t be more relaxing, than when you visit this jewel of the Indian Ocean, the small island nation of Sri Lanka. The beauty of its endless beaches, the resplendent splendor of its jungles, and its historic heritage (with influences from the Malay peninsula, India, and the Arabic nations) makes it a unique place to visit. Most importantly, the people are welcoming and you would be surprised at the warmth their hospitality exudes. Leave aside the rare occasional feud, the country is largely peaceful and is a place where religions, customs, and practices have gelled well for centuries. If you happen to spend your Eid Holidays in Sri Lanka, you would be experiencing first-hand the generosity, camaraderie, and the experience of shared humanity.
With mosques spread well across the country and with a Muslim population of over 10% of the total population, you can be sure that you will find a place to participate in the religious sermons. The customs across the world remain more or less the same and Ramadan ends with the celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr festival. The rituals of waking up early, having a bath, wearing new clothes, and attending prayers at a mosque are scrupulously followed. To accommodate the huge crowds, the Government, as well as the local committees, often arrange for prayer meetings at public places, and they are a veritable sight to see. The mass of people congregating for prayers and exchanging good wishes and hugs at the end of prayers warms your heart.
Public gatherings are organized at Galle Face Green around the White Mosque in Galle, just outside the city of Colombo. At all other towns, you can visit any of the mosques for the traditional communal prayers. If you are in and around Kandy, you can visit wonderful Adam’s peak, which is in fact claimed by both Christians and Muslims. You could also offer prayers at the mosque that’s located in the foothills.
The diversity of local Muslims is evident as you criss-cross the country and visit the many places of worship that dot the towns and the cities. The Islamic architecture of the island nature is majestic and has influences of Indian, Turkish, Egyptian, Arabian, and Iranian styles. Besides the grand Red Mosque in Colombo, be sure to see the White Mosque at Matara, the Jumma Mosque at Vavunia, the Asna Mosque at Akurana, the Abrar Mosque, the Naleemiah Mosque and the Onion Mosque at Beruwala, the Hanafi Mosque at Kandy, the Portuguese style Meeran Masjid at Galle Fort, the Masjithul Huloor at Trincomalee and many others. All of these places of worship are worth visiting for their architectural splendor.
Eid means breaking a month-long fast, so why not try some unique Sri Lankan cuisine for a change? Iftars are an elaborate affair here too. If you get the opportunity, you should try out some of the homemade delicacies that are prepared by the women of the household. They are simply fabulous. In fact, you can also get some of these at the shops, ready to be packed, but the ones made at home are a different experience altogether. For example, the palaharam, a fried concoction that’s coated with sugar syrup is simply divine. Or, try the Thakbir – delicate pastry sheets that are layered with ghee, topped with dates, nuts, pumpkin preserves, sugar syrup and rose water. The watallapan, spiced and steamed custard, and the samosas, the kunafa, faluda, biriyani, and kebabs are other delicacies that are worth a try.
Sri Lanka offers a plethora of halal restaurants serving local cuisine and also international food. Some of them include Eastern Wok Halal Restaurant, The Sandwich Factory, Elite Restaurant, and the Al-Maas Family Restaurant in and around Colombo. Besides these, there are several special Iftar feasts organized across the city. For certified Halal food in Kandy, visit the Kandy Muslim Hotel and Licensed to Grill for delicious grills, sandwiches, and wraps. Around Dambulla, you can try the Mango Mango Restaurant, and the Hela Bojun to sample traditional local food.
Festivals and shopping seem to go hand-in-hand. With multiple exhibitions that are organized especially during Eid, you could be in for some good bargains. In fact, clothing and spices are something that you should definitely look out for. The places that are worth visiting and are hugely popular with the locals include shopping at Arcade Independence Square and bargain shopping at the street side markets in Pettah. Stuart Street on Slave Island is a must visit to catch all the excitement associated with festival shopping and also elaborate Iftar arrangements. Outside the Red Mosque in Pettah, you can easily get yourself traditional caps, perfumes and Mehendi or henna.
Many thanks to Carolette Alcoran for detailing how to celebrate Eid holidays in Sri Lanka. Have you been to Sri Lanka? Let me know in the comments!
For more information on Sri Lanka and the beautiful beaches you can find there, check out this link – the Best 6 Beaches in Sri Lanka!