Eid al-Adha at the gates of OCC Greece

Please note that the Greek, Spanish and English version of this article is an automated translation of the original article in Catalan.

At the beginning of the main avenue of Policastro, a small town in northern Greece of about 8,000 inhabitants, is the second headquarters of the Open Cultural Center, a non-profit organization that works for the integration and inclusion of the refugee community in the territory.

From today, July 31, and until August 3, Eid al-Adha, better known as “the feast of sacrifice,” takes place. A sacred day for the Muslim religion and its faithful, which in its most sincere meaning represents submission to God and generosity for the poor.

The festival is celebrated seventy days after Ramadan, and is part of the great pilgrimage to Mecca, Hhajj in Arabic, which according to Muslim culture, is a stage that must be performed by every follower at least once in a lifetime.

One of the most special moments of Eid al-Adha, gathering family and friends and enjoying a hearty banquet, mostly meat-fed, is one of the most special moments.

As tradition has it, and according to the doctrine of the Qur’an, the courtship is accompanied by the sacrifice of the beast, typically the lamb, the sheep, or the cow. Although each country has its own ritual. The aim of the ceremony is to divide the meat into three portions, one for family, another for friendships, and a final part for the most disadvantaged.

This afternoon in Policastro, the street is an oven that gives off relentless heat. Through the pristine windows in the OCC classrooms, you can see how the classes are taught by the students. Among these, there are two groups, the ‘Falafels’, children aged five to eight, and the ‘Pirates’, teenagers aged thirteen to sixteen.

Both groups follow similar dynamics. The classes are divided into two parts, one dedicated to dealing with the lesson that corresponds to this day, and another to celebrate Eid al-Adha, accompanied by a meal of sweets and cakes made by some of the volunteers who work there for the organization.

The teachers hand out the gowns and give the brushes to the little ones. The music begins to sound. Boys and girls let their imaginations run wild by painting huge cards. The minutes go by between revelry and laughter. The atmosphere is cozy and familiar.

Among preadolescents and teens, all of them boys, the activity is focused on talking a little about themselves and the dreams they expect.

I am Zakaria, I am 14 years old and I come from Syria. I speak Arabic and a little English. I can’t think of the future that awaits the young man standing in the middle of the circle that has formed around him.

Zakaria, 14 years old

And so they do, one after the other, while the teachers coordinate the activity. Some are insecure, others are hopeful. “I want to be a teacher”, “I want to have a restaurant”, “I play football”, “I see my family” …

Volunteers and students laugh. They seem to be at ease.