Eid arrival in South Asia
Preparations for the festival continue till the eve. – File photo
Disney+ recently announced that they were releasing a short film, titled 'American Eid'. The film, which is still in the development stages, follows the life of a Pakistani family emigrated to America.
The main character, an eight-year-old girl named Ameena, wants to celebrate Eid, but the festival is not recognised as an official holiday in the US. As a result, she takes it upon herself to create a petition and start a campaign in order for Eid to be recognised as an official holiday in the US.
Like Ameena, Muslim girls get their clothes ready months before Eid. They go out to the decorated markets, filled with other girls who also come out to buy bangles, accessories and some last-minute Eid shopping. While Eid doesn’t come under official holidays in America that is not the case in South Asia.
Eid is recognized as an official holiday in majority of Muslim minority countries including Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bhutan; which means it is celebrated with as much zeal and honour. Muslim women in minority cities go to mosques for Eid prayers, gather to celebrate and divide sacrificed meat into packets and distribute them to friends and families and the poor.
If we look at India, Eidul Azha become more so a controversy rather than a happy event, creating waves every year. Due to the sensitivity surrounding beef consumption in India, Eidul Azha is often laced in controversy and misunderstood.
Moreover, recent times have seen the ritual morph into one of much greed, gluttony and exuberant displays of wealth. In Sri Lanka, mothers and grandmothers would begin the festivities way before the final day.
They don’t like store-bought sweets and make a variety of sweets at home. Muscat, a sticky sweet is a community favourite.
It is made with wheat flour, ghee, nuts and lots of sugar. It is not something one would say a pretty sight, and has a thick, oily texture. Making of Muscat requires a lot of body strength in order to separate the gluten from wheat and then patiently stir the pan for more than two hours until the mixture solidifies.
Some other favourites include Palaharam, which is a sugar-coated thin roll of fried dough, Gnanakatha, a buttery sweet and Thakbir, a pastry with layers of dates, nuts and preserved pumpkin inside.
In every household that one comes across in South Asia, women are mostly either seen in the kitchen on Eid or serving guests arriving on three-day event. Eid means large families getting together to celebrate and share food, however, the women of the family are the ones prepping it, thus most also complain about not doing justice to all the trouble they went through to look good.
Eid is generally a communal affair in Muslim neighbourhoods where everyone gathers in one community mosque, share food and have a good time. This year, Eid celebrations have been a bit different due to Covid-19 pandemic and governments imposing lockdown. Families are not able to spend the day with each other and regular festivities might not take place.
With spirits high and still shopping at last minutes, even the day before the lockdown gives an impression of how a regular ‘Chaand Raat’ looks like.
The writer is Assistant Professor of Journalism at Kinnaird College for Women. She is an award-winning producer and director and has specialisation in producing web-based videos plus independent documentary film work.