Eid ul fitr, in literal terms refers to the festival of breaking fasts. After a month-long of fasting, Muslims all over the world celebrate the three Holy days with friends and family members. Everyone has different traditions for Eid but mainly, it comprises of joyous gatherings, filled with fun, love and laughter.
However, in this ever-so evolving era of technology, as every year passes by, these traditions are ever-so changing as well - to the extent that now the whole essence of Eid is partially losing its traditional image.
As a child, Eid would always feel overwhelmingly special and magical. But growing up in this marvellous age of technology, which can be quite chaotic at times, mind you, Eid has, indeed, somehow lost a slight bit of that ‘special/magical’ feel to it. The following is how contrasting Eid has become because of our technology integrated lifestyles, from a series of experiences by yours’ truly.
Ring ring ... the incessant calling from my phone woke me up. It was a holiday yet my phone was ringing off the hook. A gazillion text messages from friends and family wishing Eid Mubarak stared back at me. Each message was the same, written with the same level of indifference. I sighed and thought of the good old days of Eid cards with personal messages for everyone. No one had time for these anymore.
The preparations of Eid start from the last days of Ramadan when people get busy with cooking and shopping. I remember when I was younger, my mother used to take us shopping. We used to shop all night and after some ice cream, we’d come home excited for the occasion. Nowadays it is completely different. These rituals do not happen anymore – partly because we are older now and on our own, but also because we rely on the internet for shopping instead of heading to the nearest malls. Shopping for Eid seems like a hassle and not an opportunity to bond and spend time over with family.
I remember growing up during the pre-Internet days where the holidays meant spending time with family, decorating, shopping, stuffing our faces with food, and spreading love. Now, because we live in an extremely digitalised world, where the Internet and smartphone have all the power, we have become removed from anything related to tradition. Social media has made people less in touch with each other on a personal level. There are even emoticons to express feelings on the net but even these are superficial. What had happened to the old fashioned Eid cards? I remember writing personal notes for everyone and loved exchanging and reading what my friends and cousins had written for me. I do admit I am too old for this now but the concept of e- cards just does not bode well with me.
Traditions are very important in every family when it comes to celebrating Eid. As a young child in Dhaka, Eid celebrations were centred on family and neighbours. In my household we had to be ready before my father came from the mosque all prepared to have breakfast together. The entire day used to be a full house of relatives and everyone chattering about, enjoying the festivities, eating to their heart's content after a long month of fasting but now all that feels like a distant memory. Now I wake up and see my brother's check in at the latest restaurant in town and instead of coming to my room and giving me a hug he sends me a message on social media. I don’t know when we grew up so much or when it became more important to roam about the most popular places in Dhaka city than enjoying the moments with your loved ones. Earlier family and friends would go to each other's houses all day to celebrate; and even fly to different countries to be with each other. Today, you get the random Eid Mubarak from your telecommunications provider and the feeling is just not the same.
In the olden times, festivals were celebrated with extended families which meant meeting chachas and khalas you had not met all year. Today, no one is even in town. People prefer more intimate gatherings and most tend to go on holidays. The travel companies have exploited peoples’ needs to escape to the point that every Eid all one wants to do is get away. The whole traditional Eid and its festivities are completely lost. No one wants to go through the hassle of cooking at a large scale or making plans. Travelling seems like a very good option to spend the free time all refreshed before the hectic lives start all over again.
It is known that change is the only constant in life. However, sometimes it feels as if yesterday is better than today. Eid for me has always been about the small traditions, the smiles on the faces of children when they get their Eidi, and I do feel as if all this is slipping away. But I am an optimist. Even though some traditions are lost new ones are taking form and I believe these traditions will bring back the old essence of Eid.