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When Sights and Sounds of Eid

Another year, another Eid. As the largest celebration and festival in our religion, it really needs no introduction. This is the time when, after a whole month of fasting (or sneaking snacks undercover, as many people do) and discipline, everyone can let their hair down a little and smile together. Or is it? Let's take a closer look at the Eid scenario over the last few years:

Shoppers galore…
As the clock ticks on and the big day draws nearer, the mood begins to change from one of austerity to that of anticipation. The shopping mania picks up pace, and the scramble for the best buy really begins. This is the time when a certain class of people emerges, whose prestige rests on the price tags of their purchases. Thus you get to hear about "Lehenga sold for Tk 2 lakh" in some local newspapers. What do you do with a Tk 2 lakh lehenga anyway? Read on…the mystery will be solved shortly.

The Announcement
The very night before Eid, everyone more or less gulps down the iftar and either heads out for some moon watching, or stays glued to the TV for the special announcement that will announce that the moon has been sighted. The latter category of people will notice that just prior to the announcement of the moon sighting, if the announcer is a female one, she will be wearing a discreet veil over her head. Then the moon gets sighted, and presto! Off comes the veil, and on comes the makeup. Talk about instant transformations!

Marauding mobsters
Round 1: Encounter at the Idgah: The jamaat concludes, and there are several rounds of smelly hugs (sweat + attar/cologne = stench), commonly referred to as 'kolakoli". After this, the members stride out, resplendent in their crisp new punjabis. No sooner do they step out of the mosque and into the open, a battle cry of 'Baksheesh!" rings out from the crowd waiting outside, and a battalion of beggars storm forward for the attack. Wads of mint-fresh bank notes are diminished as the defenders try to stave off the assault, but the attackers are relentless.

There was an incident a couple of years back, when an Arab national, who happened to be spending Eid in Dhaka, stepped out of the mosque and started distributing fresh ten-taka notes amongst the needy. Emboldened by his generosity, the beggars gheraoed him, and when the rescue parties finally managed to work their way through the mob and to the unsuspecting victim, he was lying on the ground in a daze. his clothes reduced to dirty tatters, his pockets emptied out, and his watch and other valuables stolen. So much for the poor being 'meek'.

Round 2: Enter the relatives: It's child vs. parent, brother vs. sister, niece/nephew vs. aunt/uncle in a no-holds-barred duel as the younger ones launch an attack on their elders screaming for 'Eidie' or 'salami', whichever you call it. The same kid who finds the word 'Assalamualaikum' stick in his/her throat during other times of the year, now gleefully throws him/herself at the elders' feet in the customary 'salaam' that precedes the Eidie. Extortion has many faces indeed.

Out come the freaks
Once the battles have ended and the sun goes down, the city, which is mercifully emptier due to the mass exodus to the villages, takes on a different look. It's all about seeing and being seen as the souped-up cars take to the road with a lot of vroom! vroom! dhishting dhisting…and in an attempt to compete with the noise pollution, those who decide to take advantage of the deserted streets to enjoy a rickshaw ride, start hollering and hooting at the top of their lungs.

When you're driving across the city, you'll notice the crowds at the malls and fast food centres, especially the ice cream parlours. If curiosity ever takes you into one of those, you'll find them full of those people who buy those Tk 2 lakh <>lehengas and saris. Now you know where you can wear these pricey purchases. As they say in those old Math textbooks, QED.

Sad isn't it? The way Eid, which is supposed to be a time of peace and togetherness, has, over the past years become commercialised and fake? We've become so materialistic and superficial, that we've forgotten the values and the significance of this occasion. It doesn't really have to be that way, you know. It's never too late to change. So this Eid, why not spare a thought for those less fortunate than ourselves? Why not take some time to actually share some quality time with friends and family; just making real conversation over a hot meal or connecting with one another? Here's wishing everyone a warm, happy and meaningful holiday. Eid Mubarak!

By Sabrina F Ahmad


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