In India, Eid celebrations are not restricted to Muslims alone

Published: July 5, 2016
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Millions of Muslims across the world are celebrating the Eidul Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the monthlong fast of Ramadan. PHOTO: AP

Festivals are a wonderful time of year. They give people an opportunity to bond, share joy, make memories, and most importantly they fill the atmosphere with positivity and good cheer. Festivals also provide a break from the normal rhythm of life and the holidays from work, school, or college don’t hurt either.

Living in a vibrant, multicultural society like India gives one the benefit of being able to celebrate multiple festivals with ample enthusiasm. While Diwali and Holi are by far the most celebrated festivals in India, one can also experience the magic of Christmas and the exuberance of Eid in equal measure. Festivals go beyond religion and become an excuse for people of all faiths to enjoy, have fun, and celebrate.

India not only has one of the world’s largest Muslim populations, it has also had Muslim presence for over a thousand years. It is therefore natural for Eid to be a major festival in the country, observed with all its attendant customs and rituals.

An indicator of the scale on which Eid is observed in India, and the complete state support of the celebrations, is the fact that many public areas are earmarked to enable Muslims to congregate in large numbers and offer prayers on Eid. Azaad maidan in Mumbai hosts thousands of devout worshippers.

Similarly, a big stretch of a major national highway running through Gurgaon, near Delhi, is closed to traffic on the morning of Eid to allow namaz (prayer). The authorities have recently earmarked a big public park as an alternative site to minimise disruption and inconvenience to the huge volume of traffic between Delhi and Jaipur on that highway.

The celebration of Eid is not restricted to Muslims alone. It has now become a major cultural factor and its influence extends to non-Muslims as well who experience it in many different ways.

Eid the gastronomic experience

The preparation for Eidul Fitr begins with Ramazan. While for Muslims this is a period of fasting, the time of iftari becomes a celebration of food for all food lovers. Across the country, areas with large Muslim populations come alive with food stalls and bazaars as soon as the sun sets. The Jama Masjid area in Old Delhi, MA Road in Mumbai, Charminar and Toli Chowki in Hyderabad become hubs for food lovers.

While Muslims open their fast and shop in preparation for Eid, others flock to these areas to join in the festivities and enjoy delights like kormas, kababs, biryanis, and sweets. Then there’s haleem. Haleem stalls sprout up all over Hyderabad, and a couple of them like Pista House and Hyderabad House have a global following now.

Some of the more enterprising individuals also organise Ramazan food walks so that tourists can get a good taste of all the different types of food. It is true that food can unite people and nothing exemplifies that better than the large crowds of people from different religions partaking of the same delicacies and enjoying the festivities together.

The iftar party as a political event 

Iftar parties have become major events for political parties and every leader worth his salt hosts lavish parties in which power brokers rub shoulders and make deals. A lot of political understanding is achieved in these gatherings, lubricating the way for forward movement on tricky issues. The newspapers carry stories of who was and wasn’t invited, and who did and did not attend.

Iftar parties are a bit of a barometer for the current standing and power of the host. The latest news this year is that Sonia Gandhi party has decided not to host an iftar party this year. Apparently with her party’s declining political fortunes and growing isolation, she was not sure if any distinguished invitees would show up at all, and she probably wished to avoid further embarrassment.

Salman Khan blockbusters

Eid has been auspicious for Bollywood and several major films have been released on Eid over the years. Of course since 2009, Salman Khan has pretty much booked the day for his movies and every single one of them has gone on to become a monstrous hit. Wanted, Dabangg, Bodyguard and many others have been big hits at the box office and even this year, Sultan looks all set to get the cash registers ringing.

It is a holiday for everyone and after a month of fasting and abstinence, people seek entertainment and what better way than a Bollywood blockbuster to indulge oneself and culminate the festivities on a high note!

Eid occupies a special place in India where it is enjoyed and celebrated in all its glory. And why not? It is after all a celebration of humanity. While it symbolises faith, it also is an occasion for introspection and self-discipline. Its essence therefore has universal appeal and applicability.

Wishing all readers a happy Eid and hope that in this time of growing conflict and sharpening divides, the essential message of brotherhood, patience, sharing, kindness and compassion shine through and peace prevails in the world.

Amit Nangia

Amit Nangia

The author is a learning and development professional with a background in finance and human resources that informs his commentaries on geopolitical and socioeconomic trends. He tweets as @amitnangia06 (twitter.com/amitnangia06)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • jay

    I am a Hindu from Mumbai and i celebrate Eid with equal gusto ! Same goes for my Muslim friends who enjoy Diwali sweets and food with my family ! This is IndiaRecommend

  • vinsin

    Do you also fast/follow with warrior diet? Having non-Muslim friend is unislamic. Arent your Muslim friends circumcise?Recommend

  • wb

    This writing is a sappier hocum than a Karan Johar movie. I still don’t get the point of this pointless writing.Recommend

  • Gambhir

    This was sick. And perverted. Be patriotic, but never jingoistic, and never never uncivil. And to be obscene over and above that is shameful.Recommend

  • jay

    All my Muslims friends are Indian 1st , Muslims later . I am proud of them for that ! The day they mix religion with love for mother land they will cease to be my buds !Recommend

  • whatever

    In India we have holiday on Independence day, Republic day, Holi, Diwali, Eid, Guru Nanak Jayanti, Christmas, Muharram, Mahavir Jayanti etc. and every holiday are enjoyed with great zeal and passion. Unity in diversity is the motto.Recommend

  • wb

    Who told you that they’re Indian first? If they told you, then it’s taqqiyah. If someone else has told you, then it’s wishful thinking.

    Islam is always and forever be first for a Muslim. Not India, not Pakistan, not Saudi.

    You clearly haven’t read Islam.Recommend

  • Patwari

    That is because YOU are a Banarsi Mulla. Paid to write poisonous
    diatribes, by your masters at RSS and Vishwa Hindu Parishad/BJP.
    Living in your pigeonhole by the lapping
    waters of Ganga, in …….Banaras? Veranasi? Maharaj’s Cty? Potala?
    Time to go and get your idli, your dosa and a cup of tepid tea.Recommend

  • Gulchand Mehta

    Agree with you. Unfortunately, he gives all Hindus a very
    bad name. Single handedly.Recommend

  • zoro

    Yes proud to be Indian !!!Recommend

  • Sunil

    I would NEVER celebrate eid. Many Hindus do not join in this so called festival.Recommend

  • Srinivasulu Mekala

    Well we got your point, and that is enough for now.Recommend

  • vinsin

    Since when facts have become sick and uncivil? How that was obscene? You answer the questions.Recommend

  • vinsin

    Then why you banned Universal Sufism, True Furqan, taken citizenship from true furqan etc? If unity in diversity is motto then why love Jihad is not banned? Indian diversity is going down since last 1000 yrs, what steps have you taken.

    Fact is India motto is Muslim appeasement.

    Ask Indian Muslims to become secular and adopt human rights so that India can become UNSC member.

    What happened to Unity in diversity in Kashmir Valley?

    Why have you thrown Sikhs to Canada and Britain and gave their properties to Muslims?Recommend

  • Ram

    My relatives neighbor were Muslims during Ramzan Rosa they were also not cooking as it could spoil Rosa for there Muslim neighbors so my cousins use to come and eat with us while elders kept RozaRecommend

  • COLVINOD

    I wonder how many in Pakistan are aware that “The Cheraman Juma Masjid (Malayalam:ചേരമാൻ പള്ളി) is a mosque in Methala, Kodungallur Taluk, Thrissur District in the Indian state of Kerala. Built in 629 AD, it is the first mosque in India. It was built by Malik Deenar, an Arab propagator of Islam and a follower and contemporary of Islamic Prophet Muhammad.” Worth noting are the facts that at that time Prophet Muhammad was alive and Islam did not came to India by sword; it was welcomed as a religion of peace and love, bringing people together.Recommend

  • COLVINOD

    Seems you have a sick mind. Wonder how do you have China with a friendship as deep as oceans and higher than Himalaya? Your idea of Islam is very distorted.Recommend

  • hp kumar

    why i as a hindu should celebrate eid is beyond my comprehensions?Governmnt should bring UCC as soon as possible.India is hindu by all means and preception.Protecting majority’s culture and demographic should be the focus rather minority appeasement.Recommend

  • hp kumar

    Ok i got that but still i will give enough dose of hindusim to my kids and family.Its our responsibility to protect our future generation.I do feel threatened by growing numbers of muslims and their cultural invasion in our day to day life.Recommend

  • hp kumar

    R you sole representative of Hindus?His words may be coming out of insecurity but i and many like me r not comfortable with growing influence of islam in our country.I cant live in a islamic country,simple.Its govt responsibility to provide a safe environment to every hindus living in India.Recommend

  • hp kumar

    How ?By providing space and facilities to a particular community at the cost of your own?Recommend

  • Ex tribune reader

    But eating cow is not allowed, otherwise …Recommend

  • Bharat

    Simple
    This is one way of showing contrast – and then changing people perceptions and minds.
    Do Muslim Pakistanis, on a wholesale level celebrate Diwali ?Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    We Indians need to come out of this hypocrisy that everything is hunky dory else the Hindus of India would be restricted to museums only in a centuries time.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    Islam cannot exist without exploitation of the natives and wiping out native culture and identity. Both Islam and Christianity are designed and developed for enslaving the natives, heavy taxation on the natives whom Muslims call Kuffar. The West has clipped wings and limbs of Christianity to make their society progressive and peaceful. Xainity in central Americas or even Asia makes those lands and society have only servile Banana Republics. But where Islam is supreme and native spirituality is completely wiped out, for example, Pakistan, it becomes a breeding ground for terrorists. So far the West supported Islam and Islamic lands like Pakistan because of their hate for anything native, ie in case Pakistan, the native Hindu and dharmic culture and spirituality. West used Islamized Pakistani society as cannon fodder to contain India and destabilize its progressive society. Today the west, Arabs and Persians cannot use Pakistan against India, so they might use Indian Muslims to restrict Indian economic progress and destabilize India. Muslims within India will be used to recolonize India. Looking at Islamized/Urduized Bollywood and Indian media, the process of cutting Indian roots because of which India is progressing, India is democracy and India is economic power, is already happening.Recommend

  • abhi

    I tried to wish few muslim friends Eid, there are many who do not even acknowledge the greetings. I guess it is beyond their dignity to be greeted from a Kafir. So I stopped Eid greetings.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Trust a hate spewing hindu Sawaraj Swami to talk about
    Islam. After he has lit the arti for the 983 deities.
    No one, knows, including the hndus, why a fire is lit and
    they are required to jump over it. Something to do with the
    hindu religion.Recommend

  • Framroze Rustomji

    Only Hindus live in India? No Christians, Parsees, Bhuddists
    Sikhs, other Indigenous religious/sectarian ethnicities…?
    Sure, you got HINDUTVA written all over YOU. Recommend

  • Sarah Vaughn

    It would be impossible to have a sane, reasonable,
    secular, discussion with you. You are an ideologue and
    an extremist. No one is preventing you from expounding
    your religious beliefs…to your kids and family…no one.
    And surrounded by 1.8 billion Hindus, who are just like
    yourself, you feel threatened? Exactly how?
    Your comment is painting a different picture. One of hate.
    Sorry.Recommend

  • Patwari

    A great blog. Destroyed in it’s message by Muslim hating hindu
    trolls like YOU. May your gods and goddesses take pity on YOU.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Since YOU started lacing them with poison and YOUR hatred
    for Muslims. Pure unadulterated hatred. That’s when they
    become “sick and uncivil”.
    There must be better hindus somewhere. Because You are
    just pitiful.Recommend

  • Rajiv

    No this is not true.
    may be some rare cases,but I have never seen any Hindu celebrating Eid.
    just because somebody eat “sawaiya” does not mean he/she celebrated Eid.Recommend

  • hp kumar

    Already stopped discussing with pakistani women.I m not a loud mouth person for your information.Recommend

  • Lakhkar Khan

    No one is required to celebrate Eid, especially non-Muslims. It might shock you but Eid is NOT a “so called festival, it is a big festival, however. Where have you been living all your life?Recommend

  • soorajis

    Nobody is forcing you to celebrate Eid, sit at home and watch TV . India is not a Hindu Rastra FYI. Its a secular democratic republic!Recommend