My sweet memories of Eidul-Fitr
Any festival gives an intrinsic joy and Ramzan Eid is no exception. It marks the end of Ramzan (the month of fasting). Eid-ul-Fitr literally means 'festival of breaking the fast.'
Eid is an Arabic word that means 'festival.' Having lived in Islamic countries like Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Lebanon, Syria and all North African countries, I've always felt from the recesses of my heart that this festival, like all other festivals, belongs to every individual, even to an atheist like me, who never tied himself to the apron-strings of any religion.
But my most memorable occasions of Eid have been in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
I've a legion of Muslim friends spreading across the world. I remember, how eagerly I'd look forward to gorging and devouring on sheer-khurma (meethi seviyan: sweet vermicelli) and getting Eidee (gifts) from elders.
My Muslim lady professor of Urdu, who guided and assessed my M. Phil and PhD thesis on Urdu poet Raghupati Sahay Firaq Gorakhpuri's poetry at Islamabad University, Pakistan, still sends me Eidee and new clothes. Her sheer-khurma was the best I ever had anywhere in the world. I was never a plain research student to her, but a son.
I also remember, how one Pakistani Muslim editor carried my first ever piece in Urdu in his daily. It was on Eid. He kept rejecting my pieces until I got his hand-written letter in Urdu that he was carrying my piece on Eidul-Fitr as an Eidee to me.
He also sent me a big box of sweets and a T-shirt. Though I never wore a T-shirt and jeans in my whole life, I wore his T-shirt on Eid in deference to his affection.
In Lucknow, I got a call from an elderly Muslim gentleman on the day of Eid. He began with 'Eid Mubarak ho'. It was all the more special to me because I did criticise his piece written a fortnight prior to Eid. My criticism was quite scathing. But he chose to forget and forgive and invited me over. I got a lovely sherwani from him which I still wear on special occasions. I realised that festivals gave magnanimity to people and diluted all ill-feelings. This is the essence of not just Eid, but of all festivals.
In London, my Muslim professor of Persian would call me home and treat lavishly during Eidul-Fitr. He was originally from Baghdad but studied in Tehran like me and would correct my fractured English.
Celebrating Eid and Diwali with my friends from different religious backgrounds, I understood that festivals helped create bonhomie and bonds. While enjoying a festival, one's never a Muslim, Hindu or a Christian. All festivals pare us down to being just humans sans any labels whatsoever.
To celebrate a festival with equanimity and equipoise is the essence of it. It brings people of all hues and shades together and demolishes man-made artificial barriers and boundaries.
Eid Mubarak to all........