The Joy Is Back In Our Eid
Our childhood memories are of anxiety and panic for the safety of our loved ones on Eid. I am so happy that for the children, Eid is merriment and celebration again
As I sat in a happy space in my home after celebrating Eid al-Adha recently, I was struck by an observation. I noted that this year, I did not hear news of grief on the occasion of Eid. Praise be to Allah (SWT). I am so so happy that all of us in Kashmir celebrated Eid joyously and peacefully.
For so many decades, our Eid was marred by protests and agitations and killings. I was born during those years when Eid was no more a celebration. I grew up during the years when Eid was no more a time for joy.
Instead, during the years when we grew up, it was a trend in Kashmir that protests would take place after Eid prayers every time. So it was such a contradiction of sorts. We children would have the excitement that Eid is coming! And on the day of Eid, our excitement would be dimmed by the panic and anxiety that we sensed and imbibed.
This is what I remember from my childhood years. I would wear the new dress that my parents got me for Eid. I would happily wear some matching accessories to celebrate Eid. And then I would wait anxiously for my dad and brother to come back after Eid prayers.
The Time When Protests Made Eid A Time Of Worry
I remember I used to be anxious because I could see my mother anxious. She would be worrying because she did not want that they should get hurt during the protests. Watching this over the years, I internalized this worry on the day of Eid.
It was so sad really. Eid festivities were usually crushed by the news of protests taking place in certain parts of Kashmir. This was especially the case in the parts were some Hurriyat leaders would gather to attend the Eid prayers.
Since 2010 almost on every Eid, soon after the Eid prayers there were incidents of stone pelting, and clashes with the Army and Police. It was so unfortunate. Most of these clashes would end with somebody getting grievously hurt. Sometimes these clashes would even lead to death. This led to more chaos and grief.
It was so saddening that an occasion that was meant to be celebrated with happiness and passion would turn into a time of mourning in the flick of a few seconds. This is the memory of Eid for us.
Yesterday I asked my four-year old niece what she likes about Eid. She excitedly told me, “I like to wear pretty dresses and visit you.” Praise be to Allah (SWT) that this sweet, innocent child is growing up in times when the joy is back in Eid. What I remember is that before visiting my relatives on Eid, I had to wait for the protests to end and then leave my home. Even thereafter, my parents would be worried that more protests should not happen while we were on the way, or were returning to our house.
On Way Back From Eidgah, Stones Showering On Car
I asked a childhood friend of his memories of Eid from the time when we were in school. He narrated an incident that reminded me of the fears in my heart on the day of Eid.
My friend said that once, he went for Eid prayers to the Eidgah with his father and brother. By the time the Nimaz ended, some youngsters had already left. They started pelting stones. The rest of the people got caught at the Eidgah. They could not leave due to the protests.
They waited for a few hours, but it was getting too late. So they decided to leave not through the main road but go via the small streets. My friend said that even while going back through those small streets, the shower of stones kept falling on their car. “The man who was driving was so scared that he couldn’t even drive properly. He would stop the car every five minutes. Finally my brother took over and drove the car. When we reached home, we found that my mother and sisters had been crying.”
I got goose bumps while listening to his story. I remembered how I used to wait anxiously for my dad and brother to return.
The New-Found Cheer On Eid
A friend of mine who resides at Srinagar told me that on Eid, she went on a drive at the evening on the beautiful roads around Srinagar and felt so happy and excited. What was the reason for your excitement, I asked her.
She told me, “I remember that in our area we couldn’t open the windows of our homes on Eid. This was because there were always incidents of stone pelting. After protests, such stench filled the air because of tear gas. Stones would be falling in our garden. Then because of two years of Covid, no celebration was possible. This is the first normal Eid where I actually enjoyed after such a long time,” she said delightedly. I could identify with the delight that she felt.
The Fear That Was, The Festivity That Is
I was discussing the shift with my friend Tufail Ahmad. I asked him if he felt that Eid has been different this year.
He said of course it has been different. Tufail said to me, “Before this Eid, I used to offer Eid prayers at Eidgah. But at the back of my mind, I always had this thought that as soon as nimaz and khutba are done, the protests are going to happen. How will I get back? What if anything happens on the way? But this time those scary thoughts did not occupy my mind. I prayed and came back home, ate some goodies and then went visited my relatives. I had fun,” Tufail said smilingly.
All Are Relieved That Eid Is Peaceful And Joyful
Another friend works with the railways, and is posted at Srinagar. He said that after so many years, he was able to come home on the day of Eid. “I had a morning and evening duty. I drove to my home after finishing my morning duty. Then drove back to Srinagar for the evening shift. This is my duty schedule, so mostly on Eid and due to the disturbances, I never used to go home on Eid. My house is at a distance of 45 km from Srinagar. I always used to be wary of the disturbances on the way, and I thought that I would not be able to get back on time, so I avoided it. But this year I went home, celebrated Eid with my family and came back safely. It felt like a different Eid, a peaceful Eid.”
It is indeed heartening that calm nimaz prayers were offered at a number of the valley’s shrines, including those of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jeelani, also known as Dastageer Sahab at Khanyar, Naqshband Sahab, Khan-e-Kah-e-Moula, Charar-e-Sharief, and Syed Sahab Sonwar. At numerous other masjids located around Kashmir, Eid Namaz was offered peacefully.
Muslims who were helping pilgrims during the Amarnath yatra also gave nimaz at the Baltal Base Camp. Special prayers were offered for those who perished in the cloudburst that occurred a few days ago close to the Amarnath shrine. Now it feels like peace is coming back. It knocked on our door. We opened the gates. We are keeping these gates open now and hopefully forever.
Eid Mela – Reason For More Cheer
The woman who works at our house came the day after Eid. I heard her telling my mom that there is a Mela at the Eidgah. The woman added that this was the first time that there has been a mela on Eid, and that too at Eidgah. She continued telling my mom that there are stalls selling toys, selling dresses and kitchen stuff. And there were stalls of food.
This was such an unfamiliar development for me. I was taken back to a story I had read in my Urdu book in Class 4. It was about a seven-year-old boy named Hamid who goes to a mela on Eid. He buys a tong for his grandmother because he remembers that her hands always get burnt while making chapattis. I was impressed that Hamid spent his Eidi (Eid money) to buy a gift for his grandmother. But I used to think at that time – where do these melas take place on Eid? Why don’t I go there?
But now it’s actually happening. I am so relieved to watch this happy shift. I am so delighted that in Kashmir too, adults and kids can go to an Eid mela, and spend their Eidi on buying things and eating with friends.
The Pendulum Is Swinging Back
Every artificial imposition has a shelf life. Now the pendulum is swinging back. Kashmiris are again searching and finding their roots. Hopefully it is the Kashmiris themselves who will revive their old traditions of festivity and joy.