Eid-ul-Adha Should Be A Public Holiday

This year Eid-ul-Adha is falling on the 22nd of August, which happens to be a school day (or college day). This happens to be one of the two major holidays that Muslims celebrate, the other being Eid-ul-Fitr. While the latter marks the end of fasting, this one is a tribute to the pilgrims completing their pilgrimage in Makkah and is a chance for Muslims to emulate the spirit of sacrifice exhibited by Abraham when he was prepared to sacrifice his son. Around the world, in countries like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, UAE, etc. people buy sacrificial animals and sacrifice them on Eid.

I understand that the core of the American ideal is that it preaches equality and freedom; everyone has the right to freedom of belief and worship and this secular view is exactly why religious holidays aren't recognized as public holidays. It's the same reason there's so much contention when political acts become even slightly intermixed with religious affairs because the concept of secularity and total disentanglement of politics and religion is a difficult ideal to maintain.

And yes, there are no holidays for Holi or Hanukkah or any other religious denomination. Even Christmas falls under the more vague umbrella of 'winter break' and the reason it receives even that much recognition is probably owing to the number of Christians that form America's religious demographic. Then there's also the difficulty of deciding when to award the holiday because Eid is determined by the sighting of the moon so it depends on the lunar sighting of that particular month.

Still, Eid is the occasion I've always celebrated— we don't really do Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny or the Chinese Dragon but I've always known the significance of being handed an envelope full of green bills on Eid. In previous years, we would usually try to buy a goat to sacrifice at some local Muslim farm and on Eid day go see the sacrifice of our animal along with other Muslim families there. This year though, Eid will definitely be more lackluster: my sister starts college and is adamant about attending classes, I can't afford to chart any more absences in my student teaching log and it'll be my parents and younger brother who go the farm grounds if they end up going at all.

I remember Eid being filled with the pleasures of a day off, with our entire family gathering for a barbecue and us children getting together with other kids and playing around near the lake and hills while the parents grilled chicken legs and made goat feet stew and all matter of cultural delicacies (many of which sound better than their title would suggest). In a few years, maybe parents will stop taking days off even for their younger kids on Eid which scares me. It scares me that there will be a time when people are so immersed in their work that Masjids (mosques) that now overflow with people on Eid will be nearly empty for Eid prayers, that for children, Eid will just be a day the same as any other. And so, I wish there was some way we could get our holiday or at least a national, state or even district-acknowledged excused day that we wouldn't be penalized for.

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