Story and photos by MC2 Jonathan Chandler
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – Coalition forces hosted a celebration in observance of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha at Camp Leatherneck, Helmand province, Nov. 6.
Eid al-Adha, the festival of sacrifice, is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide to commemorate the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience to God. The festival normally lasts for three days.
Distinguished guests included Maj. Gen. John A. Toolan, commanding general, Regional Command Southwest, Sgt. Maj. Michael F. Jones, Regional Command Southwest, and Brig. Nicholas Welch, deputy commander, Regional Command Southwest.
“Sharing of cultural information while being so far away from our families, learning about other ethnic backgrounds so we can learn to respect each other and become closer with those in America which is such a diverse society,” said Qamaruddian Jabarkhiel, RC(SW) cultural advisor, who was born in Afghanistan but is now a resident of Fairfax, Va.
“I think as Marines learning about the culture and the people of Afghanistan is very important because by showing we care about them has a huge effect in a positive way,” said Lance Cpl. Lauren Kohls, a Marine attending the ceremony and a native of Stafford, Va.
Muslims in attendance put on their best clothing and danced to celebrate Eid. There was plenty of traditional Afghan food, but guests seemed keener on dancing than sitting to enjoy their food.
“It is a way to celebrate the event for those who are far away from home,” said Humira Farooty, a native of Riverside, Calif., and an enthusiastic dancer. “There will be dinner and then the traditional dance.”
The event began with music, then Muslims and military officials in attendance gathered for a brief history of Eid. Afterward the coalition forces and Afghans sat down for the meal. Some coalition guests dressed in traditional Afghan attire to show their support.
“We try to embrace the Afghan culture as much as we can and by wearing the Afghan clothing it is a way of showing we are trying to understand,” explained Kohls. “Being here and seeing the festival is a great opportunity because we work with Afghans all day, every day and we don’t always get to experience what their life is like.”
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