3 most popular festivals in Saudi Arabia
Festivals are celebrated in each and every country of the world. Among them, Saudi Arabia offers a different variety of festivals to celebrate. The Arabs are known to be festive peoples giving more emphasis to their religion. As the population of Saudi Arabia is mostly Muslim the country celebrates all the Muslim holy days. The festive atmosphere to the nation has been luring thousands of visitors every year in recent decades. Saudi Arabia has a rich culture and tradition which you can taste during the festivals. Large processions and feasts are organised during the festival.
Festivals in Saudi Arabia are celebrated with great joy and enthusiasm. Each festival is celebrated in different ways and they vary from each other culturally. The sole purpose of celebrating a festival in Saudi Arabia is to spread love and happiness. The festive atmosphere has been luring thousands of visitors every year to the land. Visitors must check out the Internet to get the correct date of the festival before booking tickets.
Spring Festival (March)
The spring festival of Riyad is a major attraction of Saudi Arabia. The festival lures about 150,000 visitors and more every year. It is celebrated in the month of March between 19th and 29th. The weather pattern of Saudi Arabia is hot and sunny most part of the year. So, the people of Saudi Arabia usually plant flowers and trees during the month of March and April. This planting session is celebrated as a festival in different parts of the country. The spring festival is the decoration and arrangement of flowering plants in the garden with a different style. It is generally celebrated as an open exhibition for people. The beautiful view of the garden lures many visitors. The Arrangement of flowers look like a carpet is spread out. As Saudi Arabia is a desert country so there is not much vegetation but during the spring season you may see some green patches of plants on the desert. Flowers are not readily seen in Saudi Arabia. So, the people of Saudi Arabia make use of the opportunity of the spring to grow flowering plants.
The spring festival is organised by the municipality of Riyadh. The main purpose of the festival is to put on a show of the ornamental plants, flowers, landscape, designing and garden. The festival is generally held in two different locations. The festival displays 10 different varieties of flowers. About 1.4 million flowers are used to decorate and design an area to make a marvellous scene. The festival is inaugurated by a chief guest as called by the municipality of Riyadh. The festival has become a major tourist destination for plant lovers all across the globe. The municipality also organises much several awareness programs to provide knowledge about tree planting to the children and adult of the nation. The importance of plants and trees and their proper care methods are prescribed to the people. It has the maximum visitors than any other place in the country.
Eid ul-Fitr (June 3-4)
Eid ul-Fitr is the most significant religious festival in Saudi Arabia. As Islam is the major religion in Saudi Arabia the festival is celebrated with great pomp and show. Eid is celebrated after the holy month of Ramadan. The festival marks the end of 30 days of fasting of the people. According to the Islamic tradition, Eid is the only day when Muslims are not allowed to keep fast. Eid falls on the first day of the month of Shawwal (it is a month of Islamic Calendar). As the festival is based on the sighting of the moon, the date may vary. Furthermore, there are two communities of Muslims – The Sunni and the Shias. Some of them follow the Islamic calendar to celebrate the festival while some follow the sighting of the moon.
People offer namaj to god in large groups. Mass praying is offered in a hall or open spaces like fields etc. The festival got its root from the prophet Muhammad. As per Islamic tradition, the festival was started in Medina just after the arrival of Muhammad from Mecca. When he arrived, he found that people are celebrating two festive days in the year. On further conserving with the people he found that people are celebrating these days for fun and recreation. He told the people that God has given them two special days to celebrated which are the Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr. The prayer service consists of two units which are known as Rakat (words and movements followed during prayer) along with 6 Takbirs. The prayer service is then followed by public preaching or Sermon and an appeal to god asking for his forgiveness, peace and mercy. The prayer service offered to god follows two different patterns by the two communities of Islam.
Eid ul-Fitr is celebrated in Saudi Arabia with great pomp and show. People usually decorate their houses and prepare special meals for friends and family. The pattern of celebration may vary due to the diverse culture of Saudi Arabia. It is celebrated with different traditions in a different part of the country. However, the celebration is full of hospitality and generosity in every part of the country. After the prayer service family usually gather in their ancestral home or patriarchal home as per the tradition of the Saudis. Children lined up to their elders to get money as gifts from them before the Eid meal. This serving of gift or money is usually called as “Eidi”. Family members also give decorated gift bags to children which contains toys and candies. The shopkeeper also gives free Eid gifts to the customer with every purchase.
The Saudis move out of their home to show generosity by wishing the people of the locality and even the stranger “Eid Mubarak”. In some part of the country, people organise a large communal meal for the people. Households also prepare meals in large amounts to serve their neighbourhood. People usually swap dishes to taste different type of meals. The sky is filled with fireworks in the night. The visitors get a warm welcome from the Saudis during Eid.
Eid al-Adha (August 11-15)
Eid al-Adha is one of the most important holidays in Saudi Arabia. It is an Islamic festival which is celebrated across the country. The festival is said to be more important as compare to Eid ul-Fitr. The festival is celebrated in honour of Abraham who was ready to sacrifice his son to God. However, before he could do so the Almighty provide a lamb for sacrificial. From that day onwards an animal is sacrificed and the meat is divided into three shares, one for poor and needy, one for the home and the rest for the relatives.
The festival is celebrated as per the Islamic calendar on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah. The dates may vary from year to year in Gregorian Calendar. The festival is usually celebrated for 4 days in Saudi Arabia. All the business houses and stores are closed during these days declared public holiday in the nation. As per Islamic belief, Abraham was commanded by God to sacrifice his dearest possession i.e., his son. Abraham readily prepared to sacrifice his son for the command of God. Shaitan tempted him and his family to deceive the command of God but Abraham threw pebbles at him and drove him away. On the day of sacrifice when Abraham cut the throat of his son, to his amazement his son remained unharmed and instead of him, an animal was found on Mount Arafat. There is a tradition of throwing pebbles to a pillar resembling the throwing of stones to Satan.
Most of the Saudis celebrated this festival by offering prayers, dressing well, and slaughtering a lamb. The prayer service offered to God must be in the congregation which means a group of people worshipping together. Women also participate in the prayer service. The prayer service consists of two units along with 7 takbirs. The prayer service is followed by public preaching or Sermon and then Muslims embrace each other greeting “Eid Mubarak”. People also exchange gifts with each other. They also invite their non-Muslin friends to their feast to celebrate the festival with love and bonding. Visitors must come to see the rich culture of Saudi Arabia during these festive seasons.
As per Islamic tradition sharing meat, chanting takbirs during the festival is very important. In most of the country cow and lamb are sacrificed but goa and camel can also be sacrificed. People usually dress up well in their finest clothes.Special dishes are prepared for Eid like ma’amoul, sewain which are distributed to family and neighbourhood. The festival is one of the most celebrated festivals in every corner of the world.
A trip to Saudi Arabia has much to offer and will give you the adventure of a lifetime. If you are planning a journey to Saudi Arabia, visit the German website Backpackertrail for the best routes and more blog posts about this country.
List of other major festivals
- February 7-14 – Jeddah Festival
- September 23 – Unification of the Kingdom Day
- September – Hala Jeddah Festival
- November 9-10 -Milad al-Nabi
- December – Janadriyah National Festival