By Mariam Habib
20 August, 2012
I’ve realised that if you’ve grown up in Pakistan and have been fortunate enough to spend every Eid with family and friends, you’re basically spoiled for life. Nowhere else will you find quite the same atmosphere, the same nuances, the same emphasis on food or most importantly the same relations (adored or otherwise) that bind us all in celebrating together as family, as friends, as a whole nation.
Fifteen rozas down, and the whole atmosphere starts to change dramatically. Just as the advent of Ramazan slows down the pace of life, the fifteenth marks the rebirth of festivities and it keeps on getting brighter, busier, more colourful and most definitely more fun. Every day after iftari, the young as well as the old make their way to the most happening bazaars in the city and even if they end up not buying anything, lemon sodas, ice cream binges or a variety of chat pati chaats brighten up the excursions and manage to put a smile on the most unwilling of male members dragged to this never-ending shopping-cum-outing spree.
It’s the stalls that really get the ball rolling; with their beautiful assortment of choorian ranging anywhere from plain reshmi ones to dazzling glittering ones; the choices - unlimited, the budget - long forgotten. And, of course, shoes - did I mention shoes. Khussas, kola puris, pumps, heels all a must for a complete Eid repertoire. I remember whether we got new shoes at any other time of the year or not, shoe shopping at Eid was a must. But the most important night, of course, is Chand Raat, clambering up to the roof right after ending your fast and seeing the entire neighbourhood gathered on rooftops. Peering at the skyline to catch a glimpse of the coveted new moon, one or two bluff calls by some overeager youngsters and then finally the new moon itself. The joy, the heads bowed in a quick prayer, the shouts of “chaand nazar aagya”, pinpointing its exact location to a few still unable to see it, to wishing all family elders chand mubarik in person or on the phone is all an integral part of how we celebrate Eid. A quick dinner and then the Chand Raat excursion begins, which usually means more time spent in the car in traffic jams than in actual shops doing actual shopping. Yet, the environment is worth it, the unrestrained smiles, the constant babble of voices, the haggling and the simple joy of being part of a celebration that at that moment seems universal.
Then there are the Eid traditions, differing from family to family, but having the same spirit of love. Adorned in new clothes, new shoes, we always made sure that the ladies of the house were all ready before the gentlemen returned from the Eid prayers, for whether we saw them before they left or not the traditional Eid greeting was exchanged only after they came back from the prayers, and then there was the grand breakfast which sort of continued on till late afternoon. The table was never really cleared since someone or another was always sitting down for second helpings. Whatever the menu, sheer khorma was a staple Eid dish, as if Eid without sheer khorma was impossible to think of and I guess it is.
Speaking of unthinkables, what would Eid be like without Eidi. For kids that is the best part of all. Even if you’ve outgrown the age where you could be called a kid by anyone’s standard, elders in the family whether age wise or relation wise give you such a sense of protection, of belonging by extending this tradition long after one has stepped into adulthood. It is gestures such as these that tell you that for some you will always be their child, their small niece or nephew, their young charge. In turn, you continue the same with the next generation strengthening the same bond that your elders extended to you.
Despite the fact that there are instances where children are praying that the old couple their parents are dragging them to meet on Eid are not at home, such forceful adherence to tradition engenders a strong sense of caring, filial duty and responsibility in children which they carry all their lives and enrich occasions such as Eid all their lives. So celebrate Eid with an open heart and know that being home on Eid with family and friends is a blessing and then some.
The writer is a freelance columnist.