Eid is not what it used to be

Published: September 15, 2016
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I was all dressed up in my shiny new Eid clothes, my hair was freshly made, and the scent of mehendi was distinct as I skipped my way to the gate of my house. PHOTO: PINTEREST

It’s almost that time of the year again. Yes, that time, when the city is intoxicated by the smell of rotting intestines, and fresh blood: Eid. It’s been a while since I’ve experienced it, and no that’s not nostalgia or longing embedded into that phrase. I’ve been away for the past few bakra Eids, and somehow they all seem to mesh into one in my mind. I’m trying to think back and dissect them into individual moments and memories.

2013

This is my first Eid away from home. I wake up to Eid Mubarak messages but I’m not really feeling festive. There is no holiday from school. There is no sheer being cooked in the kitchen. There are no new clothes.

I used to love Eid. The smell of mehndi as I woke up in the morning, laced with the aura of crisp notes I was handed for Eidi. bakra Eid was especially my favourite. At one point in time, I wanted to be a doctor so I’d dissect the goat’s heart after it was sacrificed with my mini-sized doctor gloves and mask. I’d show my younger brothers where the aorta was, and how the different chambers functioned. That was when everything was new and appealing. That was also when I didn’t know much about the world. One year, and I remember this moment so vividly because it was the crux of my realisation, if realisations could be boiled down to moments and places.

That was the year I was going for the big guns, yes, I was going to dissect a camel’s brain. Every year, my neighbours put on this huge show where people from all over the neighbourhood would come to my street to watch the mighty ship of the desert be sacrificed. I woke up early in preparation because I had to be there to take my brain otherwise, God forbid, someone else would steal it (ah the naiveté that surrounds the minds of teenagers). I was all dressed up in my shiny new Eid clothes, my hair was freshly made, and the smell of mehndi was distinct as I skipped my way to the gate of my house. There was a large group of people so my father guided me through and I stood there waiting eagerly with him and my brothers by my side.

Soon after, a boy of around twelve came out, and people parted. He had a small knife-like object in his hand, and he drew back and threw it at the camel’s neck.

That was when I realised I didn’t want the brain anymore. The mighty ship of the desert fell to its knees, a sight I had never seen before because I was always afraid of camels. I used to ask my father to lift me off the camel before it sat down sat in that roller-coaster manner, at the beach.

I didn’t dissect another organ again after that.

It’s been a few years now. And my first Eid away from home made me miss it profusely. I craved the company of people of my faith, even though faith hadn’t been the basis of my friendships with people in Karachi.

After that year, Eid usually consisted of a desi meal with Muslim friends, we’d talk about Eid at home, and how different everything felt. But eventually, Eid became another holiday filled with yearning to be back home. Somehow Eid had fizzled in my mind. It was no longer about the clothes, the visiting, or even the animals anymore. It churned into a more tangible reality where all I really longed for was family.

So I guess, if you ask me what Eid means to me today, that’s what I’d say. It wouldn’t be mehndi, shiny Eid envelopes, or sheer khurma. It would just be home.

Maheen Humayun

Maheen Humayun

The writer studied Literature and Creative Writing from John Cabot University in Rome. She is the author of the novella Special. She is currently a sub-editor at Tribune. She blogs at karachiiloveyou.wordpress.com/ and tweets @MaheenHumayun

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

  • KM

    Touche’. Eid without home is well..not Eid.. :(Recommend

  • Acorn Guts

    Well, that definitely struck a note.

    This was my 10th eid away from Pakistan and even ‘desi food’ with ‘desi friends’ in a kurta and pajama doesn’t cut it anymore .. it is just like you’ve put it, Eid without home is not Eid.Recommend

  • goggi (Lahore)

    I adopted the Buddhist way of life, because it gives principles which Islam did not give me. For example Buddhism teaches Prajna (understanding as against blind beliefs, fear, superstition and super-naturalism), Karuna (love), Samata (equality), Avihiṃsā (compassion, non-violence & non-cruelty i.e. abstaining from killing and devouring animals).Recommend

  • Milind A

    More power to you… However am not sure about the last point…. Buddhism does allow killing animal for food. Buddha himself consumed spoilt pork and died at the age of 79.Recommend

  • Acorn Guts

    Islam promotes literally everything you’ve mentioned and more.

    In essence it all comes down to one’s own will and mental capacity to understand and practise the religion correctly. Some people lack the capacity and misunderstand certain commandments and others then blame religion for their wrongdoing. Others are misguided by fundamentalists but that has no bearing on religion itself.

    I’m well impressed by buddhism but then again you get similar elements in buddhism too .. BSS (buddhist power force) from Sri Lanka comes to mind, they’ve made a whole area living hell for local minorities but that has no bearing on Buddhism. I know many buddhist migrants here in London who are full of hatred towards certain nationalities because of how they were driven out of their homes .. I know buddhists who eat meat and and know at least one buddhist from Army back home who regularly went hunting ..

    All I’m saying is that you cannot blame an entire religion for conduct of a few or if you lack the capacity to comprehend it. Finally, there is no compulsion in religion .. what ever you need to live through your life is your business.Recommend

  • siesmann

    Only Jainism is pure non-violence,and against eating meat.Recommend

  • abhi

    so you miss rotting intestines!Recommend

  • goggi (Lahore)

    Buddhism and Vegetarianism:

    May we all follow the pure and peaceful path of compassion and nonviolence!!!

    It is written in Surangama Sutra: “… when we eat the flesh of other living beings, we destroy the seeds of compassion …” and “… motivation and goal of our efforts is the overcoming of our suffering. If we ourselves want to overcome suffering, why should we inflict it then to others?
    If we do not bring our mind to the point, that it itself detests the idea of ​​violence and killing, we shall never free ourselves from the shackles of this world.”

    It is stated in the Lankavatara Sutra: “In order not to terrify any creature, a Bodhisattva (anyone who is motivated by great compassion), who has submitted himself to compassion as a self-discipline, should not eat meat … It is not true that meat is a proper and permitted food if the animal was not killed by himself, or if he has not tasked someone else to kill it, or if the killing of the animal is not done specifically for him ………………..in future there shall be people who under the influence of their desire for meat, will find many brilliant arguments to justify eating meat … But … meat consumption in any form, in any way, is everywhere and without exception prohibited forever … I have allowed no one eating meat, I did not allow it and I will not allow it.”

    However, despite these significant remarks all Buddhists are not, as is often assumed, vegetarians. On the contrary, many Buddhists eat meat on the grounds that Buddha permitted eating meat, if the animal was not killed specifically for them.
    In Jivaka Sutra an interesting conversation can be found on this matter between the doctor Jivaka and the Buddha, where Jivaka asks Buddha the following question: “Lord, some people say that you let the Bhikkhus (the monks) eat meat. They claim Gautama accept the killing of animals to feed himself and his students. Some raise the serious accusations that Gautama exhort people to donate meat to the Sangha (the community of monks). I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic!” Buddha answers, “Jivaka, people do not speak the truth when they say that I let the animals killed to feed me and the Bhikkhus with food. Sees a Bhikkhu someone kills an animal to hand it to him as food, so the Bhikkhu must reject the food. Even if he does not see with his own eyes that the animal is sacrificed for him, but someone only tells him, he must reject the food. Yes, if the Bhikkhu even suspects that the animal has been killed for him, he must refuse. Jivaka, the practice of begging stipulates that the Bhikkhu learns to accept everything whatever is given to him; only the meat of an animal that was killed for his sake, he cannot accept. People, who understand the vows of compassion which the Bhikkhus follow, give monks only vegetarian food. But it can also happen that someone only has food that is prepared with meat. Or think of the people who previously had no contact with the Buddha, the Dharma (the teachings) and the Sangha (the community) and who do not know that the monks eat vegetarian food. In such situations, the Bhikkhu accepts what is given to him, so as not to hurt the feelings of the giver and to create a contact with the people, so that they can learn about the path of liberation.
    Jivaka, one day all people will understand, that the monks do not want animals to be killed. Then no one will offer the Bhikkhus more meat, and the bhikkhus need only to eat vegetarian food.”

    In his final teachings before Buddha physically left this earth, he foresaw that a situation would arise in the future where those speaking in his name would pervert his teachings and encourage meat consumption. So in his great Nirvana Sutra, he lays down his last will and testament on the matter: “in no circumstances should one eat meat or fish nor animal corpses, found in the jungle, for instance nor even accept from a donor a meal which contains flesh-foods. The very contact of food with meat is deemed defiling and requires purification of the food by water.”

    It is quite evident from all this, that Gautama Buddha in no way condoned the eating of meat and was keen for his monastic and lay followers to renounce the uncompassionate and violent practice of meat eating.Recommend