A forgotten tradition: From Eid to e-cards, conventional greetings get a new look

Over the years, the internet has taken over the good old mode of wishing loved ones on special occasions.

August 29, 2011

ISLAMABAD: Gone are the days when people used to send Eid cards to family and friends on a large scale, ‘to make their presence felt’, particularly on Eidul Fitr. Throngs of card enthusiasts would be seen picking cards for their loved ones at book stores and stalls across the country. Among these, the youth used to be at the forefront, browsing through cards inscribed with Urdu or English poetry and adorned with illustrations, embossed paint and fragrances. Relatives and friends at home and abroad attached great importance to these cards, as they waited for these greetings to be delivered to them. However, this trend has witnessed a sharp fall in recent years. Now, people have switched over to the internet, mobile phones and social networks to express their feelings. “People find it easier to send Eid wishes via the internet and SMS. They don’t bother to buy a card of Rs50-60, with which they have to pay for postage stamps too. Our sales have also cut down due inflation,” he added. As many as 40 companies used to make such cards, many of which have wound up their business because of poor sales in recent years. Just a handful of companies like Classic and Greetings, along with non-profits like World Wide Fund for Nature and UNICEF still make cards. Talking about the declining trend of the cards, Dr Taqi Bangash, a social scientist said, “Our lifestyle has changed. We are more mindful of our money now. It’s more convenient to download e-cards from the internet, which are free and one card can be sent to many friends with a single click. “The sales of the Eid cards have reduced to 50 per cent this year. We are waiting for the customers, even at the end of Ramazan. At a time, we used to set up 10 to 15 racks, carrying almost 300 cards each. Now we’ve set up only four racks,” said Tanvir Iqbal, a salesman at a bookshop in sector F-7. However, Pakistan Post paints a different picture. When approached Pakistan Post Operations Additional Director General Fazli Sattar Khan said, “Of course technology has overshadowed the conventional mode of correspondence, but traditional ways will revive sooner or later. I delete an SMS after reading it once. It can’t replace handwritten emotions.” “When we can video-chat live with our friends and family in the UK, USA, Canada and other countries daily using Skype and other services, it is pointless to send them cards. The electronic system has opened up new and cheap ways of communication,” said Usman Ghazali, a medical student. Imran Qureshi, a postmaster in Rawalpindi, believes that the tradition will return to the country again. “Sending Eid cards by post is one of the cheapest modes of communication, even today. People will one day feel that love and affection related with cards is much higher than mobile phone messages and internet cards.” Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th,  2011.