Every year as the holy month of Ramadan comes to an end, I always feel nostalgic and catch myself reminiscing about the past month. Ramadan has its own routine from waking up early for Suhoor (the pre-dawn meal) to preparing for Iftar (break of a fast). As this routine slips away it hits me that we will have to go back to our humdrum mundane life very soon. Honestly, the thought of not having samosas everyday and your mum not making your favourite food because you have been fasting all day is difficult to come to terms with (*cries in Urdu*). On a serious note, letting go of a month full of blessings and rewards has always been difficult for me. However, the month of Ramadan really makes me treasure and appreciate everything I have, more.
After a bittersweet farewell to the Holy month these feelings are soon replaced with the excitement of Eid Al Fitr, another perfect opportunity for Muslims around the world to not only celebrate but reflect on Ramadan and acknowledge their spiritual achievements. For me Eid means three things; a day of togetherness, showing gratitude to Allah and having a good time!
In Pakistan the celebrations begin the night before Eid with Chand Raat (the night of the moon). This is the most fun and fascinating part of Eid. I don’t know about you but in Pakistan everyone from your uncles and aunties to grandparents and neighbours go out on their balconies to spot the beautiful Crescent of the 1st day of Shawal on which the Eid Day is determined. Once the moon is sighted everyone greets each other and the WhatsApp notifications all read, Eid Mubarak!
Chaand Raat in our family usually involves similar festivities. When we were kids we used to have competitions among ourselves on who will spot the moon first and make Eid Mubarak cards for each other. However now that all of us have grown up, we go to the nearest market in Lahore instead to cover our hands with henna and find matching bangles to complement our Eid Day outfits (Alexa queue Bole Chudiyan from KKKG). It doesn't end there, we go on a food brawl next as everything stays open till the late hours of the night. Our go to menu is either McDonalds or getting some gol gappas/pani puris!
There are times when we also prepare Eid gift baskets with Seviyan (vermecelli) packets, bangles and desi mathai (sweets) to distribute it among our neighbors and friends to show a sense of closeness and generosity.
Now that I live in Kenya I miss the excitement that fills the air in Pakistan on Chaand Raat. I think Chaand Raat has got to be one of the liveliest nights of the years in the country because pretty much everyone is out and about getting ready for the Day of Eid. You see people getting their henna done under the glowing lights of the city and there's so many delicious street food stalls open the evening before Eid. I remember going to Liberty Market Lahore and was awestruck by the buzz and vibrant stalls of bangles in colours, you cannot even imagine the beauty of this radiant city!
Now, when it finally comes to the most anticipated day, Eid, we start the day with the aroma of scrumptious parathas and other savoury breakfast dishes from cholay (chickpea curry) bhaturay (warm deep-fried sourdough bread) to spicy potatoes and eggs. Once everyone has eaten breakfast and are dressed in their colourful new Eid Dresses we all go to pray Eid Namaaz (prayer).
Everyone gets together at the local mosque or a park. This is my favourite part of the day, seeing everyone in their best clothes beaming with anticipation and greeting each other. As you return home, a warm mouth-watering bowl of Sheer Khurma that your mum has prepared awaits you. Sheer Khurma is a creamy and rich dessert prepared with vermicelli dipped in sweetened milk and dry fruits. It honestly feels like a warm hug.
Once everyone has devoured the Sheer Khurma we proceed to a photoshoot. This is a definite must as everyone is dressed in their festive finery! Selfies and “candid” pictures with cousins, that we all later post on Instagram after careful consideration will happen throughout the day. It is a vital part of the day to show off your Eid Day outfits. We all wear different and diverse styles of clothes. You may see someone in a simple shalwar kameez (traditional dress of Pakistan) or someone in an elaborate yet elegant dress or lehenga, there is no in between. Everyone glows on Eid.
After Eid prayers we usually go meet our grandparents and everyone gathers there. Seeing the glow on their faces to see everyone together is priceless. We would all have a big dinner party with yummy delicacies like mutton leg roast, sheer khurma, chicken karahi, biryani and much more. Everyone is always so happy, especially us kids because we always get Eidhi Money that is later spent on food or other accessories. The youngest ones usually end up with the biggest grin on their face because they get the most Eidhi money.
The first Eid day comes to an end with the usual prayers. Everyone returns home and enjoys the other two days of Eid that they have off from schools, universities and offices.
Eid has always been something I look forward to, not only because of the festivities but also because I see it as a reminder of all the things that are important in my life, like family. It always allows me to remind myself of the possibilities of who I can be and what I can do to make myself a better person. Personally, it is a day that highlights finding a balance in life when it comes to religion and worldly pleasures.
No matter where you are, Eid is the day to show kindness and make others around you feel special. May this Eid Al Fitr be filled with joy, lots of blessings and your favourite food! Ramadan Kareem and Advance Eid Mubarak everyone! Can’t wait to see how all of you celebrate Eid this year.
Written by Mahnoor Qadir