Eid (Pashto: Akhtar) is basically a celebration where people meet and greet each other, exchange eidi and gifts and invite relatives to Eid get-togethers.
Throughout the Islamic world, there are two Eids celebrated each year, one called the Eid ul Fitr and the later called Eid ul Adha. These three days of joy and happiness, which are usually official holidays in Islamic countries, are in fact an excuse for many Muslims to visit family members, come, go and reconcile with each other.
Every year Muslims celebrate Eid by going for the community Eid namaz where thousands congregate to pray together, by preparing massive feasts, visiting their friends and family, exchanging gifts or giving Eidi (some money or gifts) to those who are younger, and sometimes older, than them, buying new clothes, getting all dressed up, applying ranja and nakrezi, and much more.
On Eid, it is customary to wear clean and new clothes, to adorn oneself, and to use perfume and up on some ranja. Although Eid is a religious festival, it has now taken on a more cultural dimension.
However, like everything else, the way we celebrate it has also changed.
Getting up before Fajr time? No way! We go to sleep in the small hours of morning, which rules out going out to mosque for Fajr prayers for guy. Some don’t even bother going for Eid prayers. Girls, too, have to complete last minute shopping and cannot get up early.
As the elders tell stories, the current holidays are more dull than ever. My mother said when she was growing up, kids used to rise and shine pretty early. My mom and her neighbourhood friends used to visit each other’s houses and get eidi wherever they went. Nowadays, not many people are aware who their next door neighbours are, so kids can hardly experience the joy of going to friends and eating yummy Eid treats prepared by their moms.
Moreoever, the Coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdowns have forced people to be homebound, stay at a distance from their loved ones and unable to congregate to pray. That’s why the spirits this year are relatively a little low.
Years-long wars have also changed the way Eid is celebrated among Pashtuns. For more than 30 years, Pashtuns have been mourning the deaths of their loved ones; without whom Eid becomes dull and tasteless. People’s hearts have been broken, their joys have been cut off, their sorrows and tears have become the guests of their homes.
As people from villages migrate to larger cities, many colors and joys of their deep-rooted traditions fade away. Although there are many fun places in cities like parks, playgrounds, halls and movie theatres, nothing beats the joy of da kali mazigar.
Phones and social media took over the joy of sleepovers at your cousin’s place
You may have heard the famous Pashto tappa, “meena pa tlo ratlo zyategi, kala raza kala ba za darzam mayena.” Checking up on each other and seeing each other often keeps us together and tightens the love bond. I remember going over to my cousin’s home for Eid, spending the night telling each other jinn stories and playing fun games. Ah, those days!
And then came the damn cell phones. Phones have changed the way we spend our Eid holidays as such that you can wish “Akhtar mubarak” to your friend over a call, instead of going over to his place.
I mean what fun is Akhtar without the pleasure of seeing your loved ones face-to-face and having gossips over a cup of sheen chai? I am not absolutely against this idea, but by sitting home and ‘celebrating Eid online’, we somehow overlook the spirit of the occasion and forget our traditions.
They do go out in the night or host dinner at home still, but the simplicity that used to make Eid dinners a joyful occasion is not witnessed anymore. It is more about sporting designer clothes and shoes and the number of dishes now. Because, if they don’t upload their pictures on social media, how will others find out about the stupendous way they celebrated the big occasion.
Food isn’t the same anymore
When I was growing up, people I knew would make mouthwatering dishes anight before, expecting guests immediately after Eid prayers. Nowadays, it’s different. What’s the need of spoiling chand raat when ordering food from your favourite eatery is so much simpler? Yes, expensive food is served to guests and family, but that novelty of delicacies cooked by moms and grandmoms is a thing of the past.
The magic of chand raat is still intact: girls and women still go to salons, and apply nakrezi. Purchasing bangri the night before has become a fetish.