October 25, 2012

Religious festivities in Eritrea

Religious festivities in Eritrea

by Ibrahim Hajj | Melbourne – Australia, Religious festivities in Eritrea have long transcended the narrow religious boundaries to serve as conduits to reinforcing our much craved national unity. The age-honoured values of religious harmony, mutual respect, and peaceful coexistence that Eritreans demonstrate in their daily lives and social interactions are blessed virtues that others often look at with a mixture of awe and respect and a bit of jealousy too.

Religious harmony is an essential element of our national fabric passed down from generation to generation to become part of our culture and indeed DNA.

Successive occupiers tried in vain to strip our people of this valuable trait and as a result countless religious leaders from both faiths found themselves incarcerated and tortured for not only disseminating nationalist sentiments in their sermons and preaches but also for allowing their places of worship to hide and smuggle caches of weapons for use against enemy military targets in the big cities.
Marking our religious festivities with great respect and zeal is, therefore, a show of gratitude to the patriotic and glorious roles our religions have played in our history.

It is only fitting that Meskel and Eid-Aladha, this year, fell within two weeks of each other with Meskel on September 27th. Our joy, today, is therefore two-fold. Eid celebrations in Eritrea, today, is a far cry from that during the Ethiopian occupation.

Back then Islamic holidays were not recognised. Eid day was just business as usual. Students who did not go to school to celebrate Eid were marked as absentees and punished for that. Even worse, some heartless teachers conducted a non-scheduled test on that very Eid day. The intention was obvious.

But the Moslems always had the support and sympathy of their Christian brothers/sisters. Those attending class on Eid day did always make sure that class notes taken on that day were shared with those who were absent due to Eid .
It is a manifestation of how even during those dark days of our history, religious festivities brought Moslems and Christians closer and closer much to the chagrin of our enemies.

Today, Eritrean kids of both faiths look forward to all religious holidays with great excitement and anticipation.
The only trouble is they have been driving their parents crazy asking for presents on both Christmas and Eid!!

Whereas it is natural to speak of some countries that they are divided along religious lines, in the case of Eritrea people are inextricably united by the two great historic faiths. Both faiths are spiritual conduits that lead to our national unity.

Eritreans in Australia and New Zealand have always upheld these great values and applied them in their daily lives and social interactions. They draw their strength and sense of identity from these values and rely on them in their daily challenges.

It is in recognition of this that the Eritrean Government has this year picked Australia/New Zealand to host this year’s Eid Al-Adha celebrations.

And let’s not forget, that thanks to Australia/New Zealand geographical locations Eritreans here are always the very first Eritrean Communities to kick start national day (May24th, Jun20 and Sep 1st) celebrations year in and year out.

Eritreans in Australia and New Zealand have always led by example in vital national matters. They were at the forefront campaigning to foil enemy plots aiming at Eritrea’s demise and isolation.

For Eritreans in Australia and New Zealand, defending and standing by their Eritrean Government is a matter of principle and an unwavering eternal commitment to our martyrs.

And speaking of our martyrs, it is worth mentioning that members of the Eritrean Community in Australia and New Zealand have sponsored about 500 martyrs’ families.

On the economic front, they have embarked on a huge investment plan which will ultimately make a significant impact on the overall investment and development projects in Eritrea. The group has been working feverishly to establish a working contacts with other investment companies here in Australia and New Zealand.

It is worth mentioning that members of the investment group took part in the investment conference held in Asmara recently.

Thanks to the Ministry of Information and Er-tv Eritreans in Diaspora have found themselves abreast and well-informed of events in their beloved Eritrea. So much so that Eritreans in Melbourne have a better idea about the weather in Keren than that of Melbourne.

Our unbounded thanks and gratitude to the Ministry of Information and Eri-tv.

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