Eid al-Adha may be very totally different for Australia's Muslims this year

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Asiye Kekilli runs a dazzling jewellery store in Sydney’s Auburn with her husband and teenage son.

At this time of year, the stream of shoppers is usually constant, with many seeking gifts for loved ones during the festival of Eid al-Adha, which begins on Friday in Australia and lasts for three days. 

About al-Adha

Eid al-Adha is very different for Australia's Muslims this year

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But sales are down in 2020 amid restrictions on big events and family gatherings. 

“Oh it’s down by 50 per cent, at least 50 per cent,” Ms Kekilli tells SBS News. 

Eid al-Adha is very different for Australia's Muslims this year

“Customers from Melbourne can’t visit, so they are just ordering online and we are posting it out to them.”

Asiye Kekilli, centre, with her husband Ender and son Ruzgar, 16.

Asiye Kekilli, centre, with her husband Ender and son Ruzgar, 16.

SBS

The family is proud to own Kekilli Jewellery, one of the first of its kind in Auburn. But they say this year’s festival of sacrifice is very different.

“We used to have celebrations within our store. As a tradition, Turkish people kiss hands [but this year] you can’t even be within one-and-a half metres, let alone hug and kiss,” Ms Kekilli says.  

“We stand at a distance and say ‘happy Eid’, that’s about it.”

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Australian Muslims celebrate a very different Eid this weekend

Eid al-Adha is the second Eid celebration in the Islamic calendar. The other is Eid al-Fitr, celebrated earlier in the year at the end of Ramadan. 

Eid al-Adha is considered the more sacred of the two and is observed by Muslims around the world. It honours the Prophet Abraham who was willing to sacrifice his son out of obedience to Allah. A lamb was provided to be sacrificed instead. 

Food is shared with those in need and given to neighbours, relatives and friends.

Asiye Kekilli designs jewellery at the family business.

Asiye Kekilli designs jewellery at the family business.

SBS

The Kekilli family have built their business gradually over the past 17 years.

“My husband’s family in Turkey [apprenticed] him into the trade at a young age,” Ms Kekilli says.

“He started by sweeping the floors and then learned jewellery making, and every year he excelled because he was interested in the field. So this is where he is today.”

With the gold price soaring this week, she says many shoppers are looking to purchase wisely.

“They invest in gold bangles, gold bullion, bars, and gold coins. Sentimental items are also popular right now, jewellery [as gifts] for their daughters, sons, and wives. 

“People are personalising bracelets and necklaces with family names.”

‘This Eid is quite sad’

Sharing sweet treats such as cakes and biscuits during Eid al-Adha is also a popular tradition. 

Reem Alameddine, who runs the home-based baking business Sweet Treats by Reem, says sales are significantly down on last year.

Reem Alameddine makes cakes and cookies at home.

Reem Alameddine makes cakes and cookies at home.

SBS

“With COVID-19, business has slowed down,” the 33-year-old says at her home in Condell Park, south west of Sydney.

“I’d say maybe half of what I usually would make. People aren’t having the big gatherings … so they’re not ordering as much.”

Ms Alameddine was born in Sydney’s west to Lebanese parents who migrated to Australia for better opportunities. 

“This Eid is definitely quite sad and difficult because we like to spend it with our extended family,” she says. 

“My children like to see their grandparents, but we will have a smaller gathering which is not what Eid is all about.

“Since food is a big part of helping families celebrate, I am stamping my cookies with ‘Eid Mubarak’, to remind families to celebrate even though we cannot be together in big groups.”

Cakes and biscuits are traditionally served during Eid al-Adha.

Cakes and biscuits are traditionally served during Eid al-Adha.

SBS

Ms Alameddine usually runs a stall at the annual ‘Eidshow’ in Bankstown which was cancelled this year. 

About 80,000 people were expected to visit this weekend.

“Thousands of people are affected by this. My family and many others really look forward to that show,” she said.

Hajj impacted

Muslim families in Australia are also impacted by bans on pilgrimages to this year’s Hajj.

Authorities in Saudi Arabia are keen to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 during the five-day pilgrimage in which up to two million people are involved.

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Saudis brace to host a Hajj like no other as coronavirus measures ramp up in Mecca

Ms Alameddine’s husband Fouad took part in the annual ritual last year.

“It’s really sad for us. This is a time when we celebrate pilgrims at Hajj, and their arrival home after Hajj,” he says. 

Fouad and Reem Alameddine are raising their children in the Islamic faith.

Fouad and Reem Alameddine are raising their children in the Islamic faith.

SBS

“It is quite upsetting for the community and for our family and friends, not to be able to celebrate together. 

“For my family and children, I will try to lift their spirits as much as possible,” Ms Alameddine says.

“I will make the celebrations a little bit bigger and put out more sweets and lollies just to try and compensate, even though it’s not the same this year.”