Employment Judge Iman shares how she plans to celebrate Eid-al–Adha


An inheritance of traditions from Persia that have remained in my family’s cultural memory over many decades has become a familiarity to Eid-al–Adha celebrations in my household. Modern day influences have undoubtedly weaved their way into these traditions to provide an unapologetic fusion of the way we celebrate Eid-al–Adha.

Eid-al–Adha will begin on Sunday 16 June 2024 and will last for three days. It is known as the feast of sacrifice and also marks the end of the pilgrimage in Mecca, known as the Hajj.

The Eid celebrations will always inevitably start for us the night before. The women will usually gather together in the largest room in the house downstairs. There will always be the arrival of an unexpected guest and there is undoubtedly debating between my siblings and I, as to whom should be held responsible for the culinary preparations that have the potential to derail tomorrow’s great feasting if not carried out properly; it is at this time, somewhere between the gatherings, the debating, and the laughter, we know that the celebrations have begun. 

Eid-al–Adha for us commences with the infamous henna ritual. Henna holds a place of sanctity in our traditions and hands are adorned with it across the world, from London to Egypt and beyond during Eid-al¬–Adha. Both young girls and elderly women will fight sleep to wait patiently and take their turns for each hand to be decorated.

This ritual of beautification and togetherness is always accompanied by singing in our house and the recitation of poetry, which is symbolic of female solidarity and the essence of sisterhood. Now somewhat older, I understand the sense of responsibility in ensuring that the intricate patterns upon those hands near perfection, for the artwork will be admired over the coming days.

If I am lucky, I will manage two or three hours of sleep before it is time to rise and commence the culinary activities. In the morning, when we wake, we all greet each other in the customary way with the saying of Eid Mubarak. I watch as my father embraces and greets other men on this auspicious day in the customary way of embracing them three times in a sign of love, respect, and joy.

The commencement of culinary activities can start as early as 4.30am. This is a family affair. Every individual will contribute in some way. We are cooking for the three days ahead and it takes at least two of us to move the large cooking pots full of aromatic biryanis. My father will bless each dish when he has returned from the Eid prayers; no dining will commence until that has been done. We will then share the food with those families around us – for at the centre of this day is gifting to others. That act of sharing is symbolic of unity and the importance of community. 

How we participate in prayer and reflection is very much an individual choice in my household. Those who wish to attend community prayers will do so and those who wish stay home for a quieter more reflective time before the celebrations begin may also do so. 

Eid-al–Adha is also a celebration of creativity. The food, aromatic smells, the colours, the fashion, the conversations, all generate and contribute towards our togetherness. It is our celebration of something that is beyond us and also our acceptance of selflessness in the face of adversity – it is, after all, the feast of sacrifice and there is a joy that binds us through these days.

As I reflect on the importance of the days ahead, it is clear to me that Eid-al–Adha is a celebration that is brimming with customs and traditions. There is a realisation for me that in times of uncertainty, ritual that comes with customs and traditions can be a unifying force. These are mindful acts that have the ability to connect us with ourselves and each other.

At the heart of Eid-al–Adha is the Prophet Ibrahim or Abraham. A man whose identity traverses three major religions: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Celebrating the diversity within religions and finding common ground is essential for promoting unity. I am fortunate enough to be able to celebrate other religions due to the close people in my life and there is much to be said of the similarities of our customs and traditions.

As I write this, I have finished preparing for court tomorrow and my bags are packed ready for my journey home.

Eid Mubarak wishes to you and your loved ones.

Employment Judge Iman
Diversity and Inclusion Lead – London East Employment Tribunal