Many exchange Muslim students in Norway are facing a challenge being far away from their homes, including Rizky Mulyana (33) and Saba Munir (27).
– Eid is associated with being social, Eid is time for gathering with family and friends. Honestly, I am very sad to be far from them, but I choose not to show it, says Saba Munir.
Munir is an exchange student on political science on gender and development at the University of Bergen (UiB). Back home in Pakistan, the celebration is a lot bigger than in Norway. She explains that the entire neighborhood usually gathers in the streets to celebrate.
Celebrating eid in Bergen
Rizky Mulyana is an exchange student at UiB and also celebrating Eid away from his family this year. However, he still wants to make an attempt to celebrate Eid in Bergen.
– I am sad I don´t get to be with my family, but I mentally prepared for this before I came to study in Norway, Mulyana says.
Mulyana comes from Indonesia and studies analytical chemistry. He has plans with his exchange Muslim fellows from different countries.
– We will eat together and bring food from our homeland. I will also join a gathering with Indonesians if they celebrate this year, tells Mulyana.
Unlike Mulyana, Munir has made no plans for celebrating Eid in Bergen. She doesn’t feel the same excitement for celebration as she used to have.
– For me, I have zero expectations. It will just go the way it goes since I don’t have any Muslim friends here. I feel a bit lonely, she says.
Missing the eid vibes and traditions
Both students admit that they do miss celebrating Eid with their friends and family back home.
– My mom used to make «lontong sayur», an Indonesian typical Eid dish made with rice, and I am so lucky that my Indonesian friend here is going to make it, says Mulyana.
While Mulyana craves the typical food he used to eat during the celebration, Munir misses the social life the most.
– Henna nights, going out to buy matching bangles and earrings with the girls, sharing gifts, and eating «feerni», a Pakistani sweet dish during eid, are activities that I will miss this year, Munir explains.
Even though the students can’t be with their families physically this year, they will celebrate with them digitally.
– I call my family during Eid, so I can at least be at the celebration in some way, Mulyana says.
– Despite the time difference, I video call them just to feel like Im home, Munir adds.
Sharing the same prayers
Mohammed Azeem is the imam of Bergen Mosque. He emphasizes that people need to remember the essence of Eid.
– Eid is a celebration after the month of fasting, and praying is a big part of Eid, says Mohammed Azeem and continues:
– No matter where we are now, what traditions and culture people have, just remember that we share the same prayers and celebrations.
Mohammed Azeem also suggests the students engage and get help from the community. However, he understands that students miss their family and close friends during Eid.
– If you feel sad and lonely, you can always come to the mosque or the Muslim students’ community and ask the people here for help, Mohammed Azeem suggests.
Encourage students to share their feelings
This year, the Muslim students’ organization in Bergen (MSiB), will arrange an Eid party in the mosque, where every Muslim and non-Muslim are welcomed.
– However, we need to remember being compliant with corona restrictions, Mohammed Azeem explains.
Hira Azeem (20), the leader of MSiB, says that this year the organization will arrange different activities related to the celebration.
– We are going to arrange an event where we will have a gathering, quizzes with prizes and serve food and eat together, she says.
Hira Azeem encourages students to decorate their homes with their friends to have an eid atmosphere. She shares some other tips as well so Muslim students can feel the Eid vibes:
– Go for a walk, celebrating outside is also a choice regarding corona. Ask your close friends to go to the mountains, or arrange a picnic in the park and eat together there.
Hira Azeem also encourages students to share their feelings if they are feeling lonely.
– My tip is to reach out and speak up. If you’re alone this Eid, send a message to MSiB for a chat or a meet-up. Hira Azeem adds.