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Celebrating Tobaski

My Magazine 2022/07
3 min
Tobaski or Eid Al Adha is a day highly anticipated on the calendar of Muslims all around the world. It is celebrated two months and ten days after the Koriteh (Eid to mark the end of Ramadan). To-baski, as commonly referred to in The Gambia, is celebrated by Muslims to commemorate Prophet Ebrahim's willingness to sacrifice his only son Ishmail on the command of Allah (S.W.T). However, a ram or sheep was sent down to Ebrahim to offer instead.

Since time immemorial, Muslims have celebrated this everywhere and every year. Tobaski preparations in The Gambia are in full swing a few weeks to the date every year. From buying a ram, goat or any other animal that can be sacrificed, to women and children taking the lead in buying new clothing, shoes, decorations, and doing saloon fittings. This time of the year is the busiest in the markets, car parks, transportation centres, etc.

Fabric sellers, tailors, jewellery sellers, and animal sellers are the busiest business persons during this period. Mostly, men are busy buying ram and other household essentials and cleaning or clearing the open prayer grounds for Eid Al Adha prayers. Many towns and villages will use open spaces created explicitly for such events (e.g. football fields) apart from mosques.

People travel far and wide to spend holidays with families and loved ones, mainly in rural settlements. 

The actual day brings excitement and joy to the faces of all, poor and rich. The day contains many wonderful messages such as the act of obedience, sharing and caring, cleanliness and more social cohesion.

 

In the morning, women will fetch water for men to bathe the rams and clean their houses, compound and even public spaces around their communities. As the sun rises, men and women, mostly elderly and young girls, will take a shower and some ritual bath and then head to the designated prayer grounds to pray. 

However, the prayer itself is two Rakas, after which the imam will give a summon before people disperse to their various houses. 

When men return to their houses, the women will already put on new or clean curtains and air fresheners and arrange and decorate the homes. 

Men and young males in the family will join hands to slaughter the animals in a halal way after some supplications. The meat from the sacrificed animal will be shared into thirds, the first third to be shared among the poor and needy in the neighbourhood who cannot afford it, the second third to friends and other relatives, last third to keep for the family themselves.

After that, women will start cooking meals of the day ranging from grills, benechin, coos coos, domoda etc., depending on what the family wanted to cook. 

At around 2 to 4 pm, most people will have lunch served with drinks they made locally or bought from the shops and supermarkets. Some of these cooked foods will also be given to friends and other families living around. 

Between 4 pm and 6 pm, you see many children in the street moving from one compound or house to house, asking for small money called "Salibo" to buy candies, ice creams and snacks on the streets. 

Older men and women too will be seen dressed in their most beautiful dresses, going from house to house, greeting and praying for each other, whiles young boys and girls will dress to impress the streets and go to hang-out-spots, restaurants, shows and other activities that are happening in their towns and villages. 

Tobaski is a festive period during which people enjoy life like no other time.

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