Thinking of ways to recreate some of the Eid-ul-Adha atmosphere in a chilly corner of the US in my student-bubble is a challenging task. I am flooded with vivid memories of the festive atmosphere, which characterises the run-up to Eid in Pakistan. The frenzied bazaars alone provide a rich taste of the behind-the-scenes Eid day drama. Somehow the rickshaws putter around more obnoxiously than usual. Girls and ‘Aunties’ seem to acquire a fiercely competitive ‘survival-of-the-fittest’ attitude to find a missing accessory. The tailors burdened with the responsibility to stitch new Eid clothes come up with a special Eid-themed spiel to explain why they didn’t complete the order.
Eid-Ul-Adha also unleashes a competitive sprint to shop for the perfect goat (or two) with the widest grin (clearly I am not an experienced goat-purchaser). All of this is undertaken for an Islamic celebration that also arguably results in a minor redistribution of wealth.
Here in the US or Canada, we learn to accept our deprivation of some of the above-mentioned joys. Family and friends who live in parts of the US and Canada with sizeable Pakistani communities manage to recreate this celebratory atmosphere through Eid themed dinner parties.
It’s slightly more difficult to create that jovial atmosphere when you exist in a student-bubble at a US university with a handful of other Pakistanis. My Pakistani friend and I have managed to cover the festive part by convincing our diverse group of friends to have an international food potluck on the day. Although her and I are slightly cheating by bringing Biryani and chicken curry to the table rather than meat-based dishes.
Celebrating Eid with non-Muslims is bound to be a curious experience at the very least. There is nothing like being quizzed about your religious holidays by an interested friend which forces one to stop and reflect on why we do some of the things we do.
Not having the excuse of being distracted by Eid festivities in my current student-bubble, as well as lacking the finance to purchase a goat, I have decided to make more of an effort to understand, convey and apply the deeper meaning of Eid-Ul-Adha. Most people are aware that Muslims celebrate this Eid in remembrance of prophet Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice his son Ishmael to God. As a tribute, they sacrifice a domestic animal.
But perhaps we need to delve slightly deeper. We are all well aware of our selfish tendencies. Even when we give to others, we do it at our own convenience. When was the last time one of us made a personal sacrifice of something truly precious for the sake of another’s welfare or even God? Whilst I can personally recollect charitable acts, I cannot recollect a sacrifice made in a way, which was particularly difficult for me. As a tribute to Abraham’s sacrifice this Eid, I will make an effort to be charitable in a way, which is perhaps not the most convenient for me.