Eid Looks A lot Different This Year - But in A Good Way
Written by: Shaowda Salehin
Eid-al-Fitr is an Islamic celebration celebrated all around the world after a month’s long fasting comes to an end. It is my absolute favourite time of year because it’s always fun, chaotic, family and friend oriented and with so much feasting that you gain back all the weight that you lost while fasting! And this year, it will be celebrated entirely differently than how I had known it to be my whole life but it also means something very special, a moment to be grateful for the life that has become so fragile in the threat of the pandemic.
Ramadan is observed by Muslims as one of the five main pillars of Islam and is the most important month of the year because it is a time to pray and reflect on ourselves and our communities. We donate money and food to the poor and focus on reminding ourselves that food is a great privilege in life that some of our brothers and sisters on the other side of the world don’t share in. Ramadan is a time to rejuvenate our humanity as well as detox our bodies and minds from all the clutter and noise of life that takes away from our happiness. My family heavily practices the spiritual aspects of the ritual more than through sole prayer - we focus on being better people. Long-standing rules in the house have been no swearing during the entire month, no inappropriate films or songs that make us feel negative emotions, and watching the news every evening after Iftar to make ourselves more aware of life outside of ourselves. We also give Iftar meals to our neighbors at least 4 times during the month, so once a week, because we are told to love our neighbors and share with them in the way that we would with family. We also are mindful of wasting electricity, food, water, and fuel - for example, we limit using the car to travel and tend to walk to the nearest Starbucks or carpool if we all have to go somewhere in one day. When breaking your fast, it can be quite easy to think you will eat a lot - but Ramadan is about discipline and self-control, so we eat healthy and energy-rich food that our Prophet Muhammad had eaten himself. Our Iftar meals do not consist of lots of different items; when I was younger, my mom used to cook a lot and most of the food was not eaten. But as the years have gone by and my parents have grown more in tune with their spirituality, especially in the darkness of COVID, we have been aware that a lot of people are struggling just to make ends meet and one meal is lucky to come by for them. Keeping that in mind, we eat traditional foods, like dates and bananas with full-fat milk and a choice of protein like chicken or salmon on the side. My mom and I also indulge in making certain traditional Bengali sweets together like coconut and rice dumplings that are mildly sweet and made by steaming coconut and honey in rice flour. The month of Ramadan changes based on the time of the lunar year, so sometimes it occurs during warmer months in which we always take family walks after Iftar. Drinking enough water is an essential part of fasting healthily as well, so during Suhoor, which is the time we wake up in the night to eat for the upcoming fast- we drink lots of lemon-infused water that gives us strength to carry out our day. All of the essential elements of Ramadan have remained the same, but the way we reflect is very different now than in the way we used to and Eid is no longer about our outfits and parties. We have more to be grateful for.
Fasting, through the grace of God, has not felt challenging because we are always at home - staying distracted and not being tired is easy when we’re just sitting down on our beds all day. I can also spend time making special and fun food or doing stretches that definitely alleviate any hunger or thirst that I had felt previously. But, I have had time to really understand why we fast and why we pray, it’s for our own emotional healing from years of living the fast life. In modern-day, we are told to work all week and have a break at the end of the 5 days. But now, as we work at our own pace from the comfort of our home, I feel so much freer from time constraints and dealing with people who are not kind all the time. Being quarantined forces you to look within yourself and ask yourself what your purpose is and what you want to accomplish in life, and I have found that my greatest goal is to be grateful for everything that I have been blessed with. When you’re also not eating or drinking, a whole portion of your day is filled with extra time and I am stuck wondering what I want to do with it. Do I want to go on Instagram and fill my mind with pictures of models that I probably don’t look like but wish I did? Do I want to overwork myself for an exam that is too late to study for and my stress is probably not going to help my grades? The answer to all this is, no. I no longer want to engage in self-sabotaging activities just because I know that they were harming me in the long run- I didn’t have the time or energy to do that kind of self-evaluation before the pandemic had started.
I also realize that people have died and children are left without mums and dads, our frontline workers are risking their lives every day for the betterment of the future, and that health is the number one priority for every human being. Other issues like pimples, a bad test, gaining or losing weight, breakups with boyfriends and best friends can all be overcome with time. But our health is so fragile and requires our constant focus and help. Eating healthy, taking vitamins and daily exercise is no longer something the physician just tells me to practice that I blatantly ignore. Wellness has become the reason behind every action and it’s what I take pride in doing and what my goals and motivations are focused on because sickness can take life away from you at any time. I have also been inspired by the world effort in curing COVID and have decided that my happiness stems from being able to give back to society using the talents and skills God has blessed me with. It is my responsibility to nurture and practice my writing talent as well as study what I am passionate about like environmental biology, because someday in some way, someone else can benefit from my work.
So this Eid, unfortunately, will be spent in quarantine and alone with just immediate family, no one to wear our new outfits for - no cousins to play games with and no friends to laugh with. But, I am so blessed to have the family that I do have, so lucky that they are doing well and even more so with living with my parents at this crucial time. Aside from the superficiality of the event, we can focus on spreading love through gifting each other special things we actually need for everyday life and praying with one another - I find it very healing to hear each other’s hopes and pains and joys.
This Eid I am planning on making some great meals, decorating the house with fresh flowers, and spending the day outdoors (rain or shine!) by going on a hike or kayaking! Something that’s a fun family activity - we were also planning on going on drives around downtown and capturing some architecture. It’s finally time to slow down and smell the roses and honestly, I think I’d like to continue living my life by placing value on the important things like health, spirituality, love, and education!
Special Note from Author:
Eid Mubarak! On this special day, I am personally wishing you the best the universe has to offer!
With a great, amazing heap of love,
Check out more Culture and Community blogs:
Learn more about the traditions and history of Ramadan.
Learn about the history and traditions of Passover.
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