Remembering Eid

In our modest hostel room at the Northeastern Student’s House at Delhi University, my friend Gitanjali, a devout Sankari, lighted incense sticks every morning before she said her prayers; the strong, sweet smell of burning mogra incense invariably turned my thoughts towards home – Assam. I remembered the Eid mornings when it filled up the whole house, mixed with the warm smell of simmering sewiyyan on the gas stove. A typical Eid morning meant getting up early, taking a quick bath (for there was so much to be done!), helping lay the table with delicate bowls of sewiyyan and an assortment of sweetmeats. In Upper Assam, a traditional Eid breakfast spread consists of Bora saul with an accompanying chicken korma or mutton korma (korma is a curd-based gravy), or if you prefer, you could switch parathas with Bora saul and relish the former with cream and gur. In lower Assam, a pulao tempered with mustard oil and a spicy onion rich meat gravy is more popular. Then, there are some who prefer a variety of pithas instead: Kol pitha, chitta pitha, mera pitha, pakkon pitha and so on, all typically rice based. To wash down this heavy morning meal, cups of strong, sweet, milky tea is ideal.

Eid is about feasting and celebrating, and above all, sharing
your joy with others, writes NASREEN HABIB.

The preparation for Eid-ul-Fitr  though, begins at least a week earlier. Since it is the month of fasting, the preparations are a little subdued. A fresh coat of paint for the house is not unusual, getting your hands painted with jetuka or the now omnipresent mehndi cone, by an elder cousin or an aunt, is a must. Little boys too love to get at least one finger coated with the deliciously cool jetuka, before they grow up and toxic masculinity forbids the simple pleasure as inherently ‘feminine’. Another much loved Eid tradition was offering tasleem to one’s elders, to take their blessings. The not so inconsequential Eidi (a token offering of money in return) was what spurred all the devotion in the little ones! It also makes good sense to buy your Eid clothes at least a week ahead, so as to avoid the mad rush in the market at the eleventh hour. Nowadays, of course, we have online shopping to fall back on!

As the sun begins to
sink in the sky on the final day of fasting, families gather on colorful mats or
at the dining table, to share the last meal of Ramzaan together. Across
the town, many pairs of eyes are cast upward, to spot the much anticipated crescent
moon in the sky. The night takes on a magical meaning as the moon is finally
spotted. In Islamic tradition, such a sighting signals the end of the month of fasting.
The local mosque confirms that Eid has begun, and cries of celebration echo
through the neighborhood.

While the men offer
the Eid or’ namaz at the mosque, the women offer theirs in the
solitude of their homes. The Eid Salat (prayer) consists of two rakatswith six takbeers, followed by the Khutba of Eid. As a
young girl, I was fascinated by the little green flags saying ‘Eid Mubarak’ pinned
to my brothers’ crisp, cotton kurtaswhen they got back from the Eidgah.
It is not common for women to pray at a mosque in India, though many mosques, over
the years, have opened their doors to women, including the Madina Glass Mosque
in Shillong, the only Green mosque after the blue mosque of Istanbul, Turkey.
Interestingly, the mosque was built from contributions – mostly by Hindus. In
Assam’s Puranigudam, recently, the Puranigudam Minar was supposed to be taken
down to make way for a highway expansion project; it is part of the Puranigudam
Masjid, built way back in 1824. When NHAI officials started breaking away
pieces of the minar, eggshells and lime oozed out from the ancient
structure. The locals, as part of a crowd-funding programme, managed to call in
a firm from Haryana who found a way to lift the whole minar from its old
home to a new one nearby. Chittaranjan Borah, a local resident, was the first
to alert the authorities.

Assam has been long
known as the land of Sankar-Azaan, and though its peace and harmony has been
broken many a times by communal skirmishes, it is, by and large, peaceful
State. The syncretic tradition of Sankardeva’s Ek Sarana Naam Dharma and
Azan Fakir’s Sufi Islam has held the people together by a common thread. The
winds of change may be blowing hard, but in this corner of Northeastern India,
one hopes that it will be a mild breeze, appreciative of the shared history of
the people.

Remembering Eid Remembering Eid Reviewed by feedvalley on June 03, 2019 Rating: 5

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