I rant you risten

Thursday, November 11, 2004

it's all Eid to me

It’s been 30 days of Ramadan fasting, I wouldn’t say it was brutal or that painful, but I have to admit I’m glad I don’t have to fast for the rest of the year… You take so many things for granted when you don’t have breakfast for 30 days: like how good eggs in the morning taste, or pancakes drenched in syrup… mmm… The literal translation of Eid is celebration… In Islam we celebrate Eid twice a year, once after fasting the month of Ramadan, and another after the Pilgrimage to Mecca is completed. It’s during Eid everyone dresses up in their finest threads and instead of gifts, the children get money…

Although there are some traditions that really make it worthwhile, my relationship with Eid has changed drastically throughout the years… One of the most devastating changes felt is that, as I’ve gotten older, the Eid money has dwindled greatly. Some of my fondest memories were running around my grandmother’s house waiting till after lunch, cause that’s when my parents, aunts and uncles would pull out their envelopes stuffed with cash to be distributed… You’d line up and put on your best smile hoping this aunt or that uncle would recognize the effort you were putting into this sham so you could get your grubby hands on some more money… one of the funniest things I ever saw was two kids during eid with one of them holding his wallet flashing the other kid his cash. His comment was “Even if your dad went to the market to sell you, he couldn’t fetch this much money.” Money, it makes the world go round with all those greedy hands chasing it. There we some great aspects of getting all this money, you could go and buy whatever you wanted and nobody ever raised an eyebrow. Toy stores and Candy shops made a killing during these three days… It was like a tradition among us kids in my family, that after lunch, everyone would head to the store with his or her newfound wealth… There we would be kings and spend a part of our cash on candy, chips, sugar water and anything else that seemed like a waste of money, it didn’t matter, we were rolling in it.. What was a couple of dinars blown on candy… (Note: a couple of dinars spent on candy in Bahrain means, a boatload of candy). The funny thing about Eid and getting money was how you’d always remember who was stingy or generous… you’d soon also find out who from the family friends that would visit was going to give you cash.. and you’d play everything to your advantage, be extra nice, stay in their sight once they pull out the cash, fake an injury… anything to get your hands on money..

As I get older I start to realize the other traditions that were overshadowed by the money aspect of Eid. On the first day, I’d get cajoled out of my sleep by my father to go and welcome the Eid with prayers at the mosque with the other men from my family. This is probably the few times that I visit the mosque all year long, but it’s a tradition that reminds me of my grandfather, and it’s always good to remember the good people in your life. After the prayers (that always seemed like an eternity), we’d head back to my house where my mom would cook up a breakfast of champions… I’m talking different types of cheeses spread out on the tables, sliced fruit and vegetables, juices, tea, coffee, freshly baked bread, and eggs served anyway you wanted. That to me was the real way to break in the end of Ramadan, with a huge breakfast… Family is one of the fundamental pillars of the Middle Eastern social structure, and it’s times like this when you really see that…

After breakfast, the children start arriving.. As I mentioned earlier we give out money in Eid, and all the neighborhood kids dress up in the best clothes for Eid and go from door to door Trick or Treating so to speak.. but instead of candy, they get coins… Over the years we’ve had some of the funniest eid stories, kids would show up to our house and my mom would give him money, then they’d either wait it out till someone else in my family is distributing before they try again… Another scam these kids would pull, was once they’d make their rounds across the neighborhood, they’d go back home and change their clothes and make another round, hoping people wouldn’t recognize them.. Pretty smart if you ask me… The only annoying thing is that these kids just keep on coming for three days of Eid, wave after wave. The first day is definitely the worst with your doorbell going off every couple of minutes, but it soon eases up…

During the first and Second days of Eid, lunch is always with family, First day: we head over to my grandmother’s house (Paternal), which is now just an empty shell of memories after my grandmother and aunt passed away. The fare is what I call classic Bahraini comfort food, rice, chicken, meat curry, fish, so delicious… My aunts have kept their tradition and do all the cooking together, bringing such a great holiday atmosphere… the food is so good, that a short nap after lunch is essential for digestion… After your nap, you’d wake up for tea and dessert and that’s when things get loud again… Once all the desserts are all laid out, my cousin assumes his role of master of desserts, slicing and serving everything up. Instead of having everyone kneeling all over the desserts, you place your order and a bowl of sweets accompanied by a cup of tea makes it’s way to you - Perfect… It’s around dessert when you start to really appreciate your family and just being with them to celebrate the holidays… I remember what it was like in college in the U.S., Eid was just another day to you… it’s not like you could take 3 days off from school or even 3 days off from work… Some friend would offer to cook lunch for everyone, but lets face it, it doesn’t have the touch of flavor and love that your mom, aunt, grandmother, etc. puts into your holiday meal. Believe me, when you’re celebrating Eid with a frozen pizza or Chinese delivery, that’s when you really start missing your family…

Lunch on the Second day of Eid is always celebrated with my mom’s side of the family, and everyone comes over to our house. That’s where my mom cooks up a storm and there’s every dish you could possibly think of and some extra for good measure… I don’t know of a better cook than my mother, and I can only hope my wife will be able to match her expertise in the kitchen… yeah yeah yeah I know what you’re thinking chauvinistic mama’s boy, well you try mom’s cooking and then you’ll know what I’m talking about… After a huge lunch with the entire family, and a much-needed nap, the men break away to their regular card game, while the women sit around talking. Everyone has a family card game, there are the usual players and then as the times have gone by, new recruits have joined the ranks. Being invited to sit and play with the men their regular card game is a pretty big deal, that card game is the most serious thing that happens during Eid and being asked to play means you are no longer a boy and are now amongst the men. The kids are all over the place running around, being totally annoying showing off their newfound wealth (they’re kids: I don’t expect them to be upstanding citizens). This is when you remember the good times and fun you had celebrating Eid as a kid.. Part of me wants to go back to being a kid, where my biggest concern is finding the best hiding place for hide and go seek with my cousins, and how many pieces of bubble gum you could fit in your mouth…

The third and final day day is where we get to rest, two days of family can be a lot, so it’s the third day when you’ve got the freedom to pretty much do whatever you feel like doing.. lunch, no lunch, I’m just thankful that I have one extra day to wind down the holiday…

Well I’m still rambling on… Just thought I’d share my experiences and how I felt about Eid to someone who’s never celebrated this grand holiday. Anyways Eid Mubarak Everybody! And boy am I glad I don’t have to fast for another 11 months…

2 comments:

Desert Island Boy said...

Eid Mubarak!

May God grant peace and prosperity to you and your loved ones!

shawarmaboy said...

Glad you survived Ramadan! Beantown awaits your return....