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Watalapam and the Hajj Festival in Sri Lanka

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Eid-ul-Adha of Hajj is celebrated by Muslims the world over. It marks the end of Hajj, the sacred pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca. It’s customary for every able Muslim to undertake the pilgrimage of Hajj at least once during his or her lifetime. Also known as the Festival of Sacrifice in remembrance of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his firstborn son Ishmael to honor his vow to Allah. The act symbolizes the willingness to give up things that are dear to us, in order to help us understand the true values and virtues of life.

On the morning of Eid al-Adha, Muslims attend morning prayers at their local mosques.  Prayers are followed by visits to family and friends and the exchange of greetings and gifts.

Here are five interesting tidbits about Eid-ul_Adha celebrations in Sri Lanka:

  1. Most remember the festival for its lavish food. In particular the Biriyani.
  2. Wattalapam – the sweet jiggery pudding is the equivalent of the ‘kevilee pingana’ given away during Avurudu or the Christmas cake served in December.
  3. It’s customary for family elders to give money to visiting family and friends, particularly to children.
  4. Most families eat string hoppers with a chicken or beef curry and coconut milk. Food is consumed only after returning from the mosque.
  5. Most Muslims pay their respects to their deceased family and relatives at the cemetery and offer a prayer in their honour.