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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Eid and its lost meaning

Yesterday our Pashtun brothers and sisters in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa bid farewell to the holy month of Ramadan and today are marking the first day of Eid ul Fitr, and tomrow as off Wednesday the 31st of August, the rest of Pakistan including myself would be marking this religious holiday and festival. Its only been a few years now that Eid in Pakistan has been a part of my life, for many years I was on foreign shores when the holy month of Ramadan ended and we were blessed by the arrival of Eid. Since for so many of us living abroad, Eid is just another working day with just the slight adjustment of early morning Eid prayers at the very best, if it wasnt for the Eid wishes we would be getting from all around, a lot of us would fail to even realise that the current day is marking such a joyous occassion.

When abroad we think of Eid back home and what Eid meant for us, what was it like being family, friends and other loved ones, little do we realize back home Eid has changed quite a bit and it is not what we have experienced growing up. It is not hard to wonder if Eid still holds the same meaning in the hears and minds of people as it did when our generation was growing up in the 90's. Long gone are the days when we as Pakistani's took pride in our collective spirit and our sense of community which was particularly evident on Eid days. Now we live in an age and era, where our realtionships with people that meet in our lives have been reduced to one's which are merely transactional in nature and lacking the depth of the human connection. Growing up in Pakistan, for me Eid was more than just collecting Eidi from all my elders, though Eidi was an important part of my day, for me Eid was also about meeting loved ones and spending time with close family and friends. It was also about forgiving and forgetting, sharing and caring, a spirit of joy, brotherhood and compassion which can not explained in words.

The part of Eid that involves meeting people is some what still there, but a lot has changed in our society over the last 10 to 15 years. It seems the real spirit of meeting people has evaporated into thin air and meeting people is now a symbolic practise more than the real desire to meet them. In the last 10 years or so, the values in our urban centers have transformed and they haven't transformed for the good, they have become more or less commoditised in nature where our interaction with others is based now on what utility we can derive from our exchange, or at best the attempt to keep a dying tradition alive. Values that were strongly associated with Eid have also disappeared, missing now from our every day lives is compassion, empathy, the spirit of brother hood, tolerence, patience and love. It would not hurt if all of us took a few minutes out of our lives to think about this when we wake up in the morning for the call to Eid prayer or the ringing of the alarm clock for the family breakfast. A few minutes of personal thought with regards to bringing out the spirit of Eid can make the difference in how our Eid holidays go. How about for a change, we show some real enthusiasm in meeting our friends, family and loved ones, while at the same time make the effort to re connect with old friends and relatives we havent met for a long time.

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