Yet again, Eid is being celebrated in this country on two different days. Muslims in the US have been compelled to celebrate modestly because the day coincides with the ninth anniversary of 9/11 and we also have a pastor in the US state of Florida trying to do something as condemnable as burn copies of the Holy Quran.
In this context, my question ‘Should we buy new clothes for Eid this year?’ on a social media site was met with an overwhelming response. Some supported the idea of having new clothes to celebrate, some disapproved and others felt it’s a personal choice. Feelings are mixed because some are wondering whether we should celebrate while many have no homes left to celebrate in, or no family left to celebrate with.
Pakistan is going through one of its biggest challenges with floods, cricket and inflation coupled with the comeback of a pre-Ramazan house guest: loadshedding. Walking through some of the posh areas of Lahore it does not seem like 20 million people of the same country became homeless less than a month ago. But should it?
We condone the government’s austerity drive but are reluctant to look into our own backyards. If we expect leaders to spend modestly, the elite must spend modestly too. Those who are disconnected with the common man will find it hard to empathise with the old couple who lost their entire world within hours or the mother who lost her three children right before her eyes, swept away into the abysmal death waters.
And they will continue to spend, much to the relief of small businesses which thrive only twice a year before Eid days. And these businesses need to thrive. It’s a tough balance to strike this year between promoting trade and promoting sensitivities.
There is another angle. If one is plagued with a disease, should such people stay in perpetual mourning? Do they not deserve a moment’s happiness? Some people look at those brave enough to celebrate with contempt, as if it is not ‘proper’. Generally one cannot muster up the energy or the will to celebrate when conditions force the heart to be melancholy. However, the best way to help those around us is to try to be happy. Positive vibes go a long way to help recover and as a nation we have a lot to recover from.
Whether the nation’s clothes this Eid are ‘festive’, or just ‘practical’, it would be good to celebrate Eid in some form. The sobering conditions prevalent now will be with us for some time and they should not deprive us of the few moments of happiness we can have with our families and friends. Even those involved in relief efforts need a break so that they can help the flood victims better later. Let us let this Eid bring us closer together and let others get a glimmer of hope from our happiness.
Published in The Express Tribune September 11th, 2010.