For those unaware, Eid Ul-Fitr is a celebratory feast that marks the end of the fasting period of the Islamic month of Ramadan. It’s not only meant to indicate the end of the fast but also signifies the achievement of communication with the divine spirit and religious virtue, characterized by sacrifice, self-discipline, and acts of charity. Eid is basically the Muslim equivalent of Christmas… except that Eid comes twice a year.
I clearly remember celebrating Eid while growing up in Rawalpindi / Islamabad, Pakistan. I would hear a knock on my door early in the morning and I would rush to the bathroom to take a shower and to wear my new shalwar kameez & khusas for Eid prayers. We would be exhausted from spending chand raat wandering the streets of Rawalpindi & Islamabad the night before, but would always be up & running on the big day. It was such a thrilling time since we had spent the last month fasting and now would finally be able to resume our normal routines.
Typically, my aunts and uncles would come from Lahore prior to Eid so that all of us could be together on the special occasion. The men would leave the house and make our way to Faisal Mosque while the women would stay behind and get ready to join us for breakfast upon our return. After Eid prayers, we would go straight to the graveyard to pay respects to those who have left us, followed by my grandparent’s house to wish them. I remember sneaking into the kitchen to steal a few (and by few I mean twelve or thirteen) shami kebabs and somosas from that much anticipated tray piled with delicious food prepared especially for the guests that would be coming over that day.
The rest of the day was usually spent eating, napping, and going from house to house to visit more family and friends. My brother and I would collect our eidi and would always be in competition with each other to see who was able to get more money by charming the various uncles & aunties.
One of my favorite memories, which still makes me laugh, is the time my cousin got a bit too eager for Eid. She was young, enthusiastic and was very excited because she had found the perfect outfit for the special day. To add to that, she had seen some random beauty special the night before Eid and decided to follow their strict instructions so that she could look resplendent the next day. The TV show had advised her to apply a paste of cucumbers, tomatoes, lemon juice, and other ingredients on her face for about 30 minutes to achieve that special ‘glow’. My cousin was more than ready and rushed to the kitchen to make the paste and rubbed it all over her face and then happily went to sleep. Unfortunately, she seemed to have forgotten the fact that she needed to keep the paste on her face for 30 minutes instead of 400 minutes, which caused her to break out into several patches & blotches. I guess we were just young and mean at the time but we would burst into laughter every hour and continued to point at her the entire day!
Its difficult being away from home and occasions such as these and can get depressing at times. I remember Eid being a grand and cheerful event in the old days, which was more than a decade ago and times seemed to have changed now.
I used to be more than consistent with my fasting but kind of gave up on it a few years ago for no reason at all. It just didn’t make sense to me anymore and I couldn’t comprehend why I should starve myself of water, food, and cigarettes without actually praying or doing anything substantial. However, I did make the effort this time and fasted for a few days, which was more than last year at least. I also ended up going to Regents Mosque in London this Eid followed by spending the day with my friends. I guess it’s easier to turn Eid into just another day off work where we constantly eat but one should put the effort in to practice what we remember from our childhood.
Anyway, Eid Mubarak. Did you get to spend the day with loved ones and make some money? I hope so!