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Monday, October 23, 2006

A Tale of Two Eeds

In Pakistan, Eed has almost always been plagued by controversies on the matter of when to celebrate it. But that's really a pessimistic view. Think of the joys connected with Moonsightings that would put UFO sightings to shame, Official and Unofficial Eeds, Ramzans that overstay their welcomes, enforced Eeds and enforced non-Eeds.

I can think back to some examples from the days of that arch-Dictator, Ayub Khan, and cite references to them by misraas/shayrs from my favourite humourous poet of the time, Syed Mohammad Jafri (SMJ). If memory serves me well, the President ordered Eed to be held all over the country after some of his province-mates claimed that the moon had been sighted, while the mullas of the province that detested him the most ruled that the method of sighting was unIslamic, insisting that the Ruet-e-Halal Committee (SMJ: Ae ruet-haraam kamaytee tujhay salaam) had to get evidence of a 'natural sighting' and the mehod of going up in helicopters to see the moon behind the clouds was unacceptable.

Karachiites, for the most part, and many others scattered over the country, therefore fasted the next day (SMJ: Hua rukhsat nah jo maahé ramazaañ eed kay din) - while Ayubi mullas roared statements about the kufr of fasting on Eed. (As an aside, some laughingly claim that this was the occasion when Maulana Ehteshamul Haque opposed Ayub and was locked up in a thaana, from which he emerged with the Thaanvi bit added to his name.)

Ayub forcibly decided to have the country observe Eed in accordance with the NWFP decision (SMJ: Khaalis pathaan chaand hua arzé paak par) that emanated from the committee's Peshawar office (SMJ: 'Peshah var' mullaaoñ nay ramzaañ ko dhakka day diya). Most mullas in Karachi refused to lead Eed prayers and the major (official) congregation had to have the Imam of the Karachi Jail forced into leading the Namaazé Eed (SMJ: Jail say maulvi bulvaaya pa∂haanay ko namaaz / Nah koee bandah rahaa aur nah koee bandah navaaz).

Worse was to come the next day, when the 'faithful' gathered with their imaams to offer prayers only to find that some mosque gates had been padlocked by the government supporters, forcing the crowd to say the prayers on the road. ( (SMJ: Talvaar kay zareeyay say manvaaya eed ko / Sharmindah kar kay rakh diya roohé Yazeed ko!)

All that was years ago. Later, the 'Eed split' took on completely a different meaning as we amalgamated Western customs (under misguided concept of upward mobility) and gave up some of our traditions for 'modernity': Sivaiñyaañ have given way to those disgusting butter-cream laden blobs known as Eed Cakes. (I often wonder if, on some Baqr-Eed we will receive hamburgers instead of the more traditional piece of raan.) The freshly 'bhoonoed' sauñf-ilaechee-naaryal concoction, with its tantalizing odor is a thing of the past; in it's place, satchets with drug-laced meethi supaari and candied aniseed jostle with toffees. Itr, of course, had long lost to Perfumes and Colognes - with names like Passion, Tonite, Sin, and the oddly named male deodorant Hard Luck trying to capture, through mere words, the purported aphrodiasical effects of Itr's heady and erotic aroma.

Eedee - still around, thankfully, in most homes - is also beginning to be replaced in a handful of homes with Eed Gifts. Aaargh. In one Islamabad house, in a well-meant tip-of-the-hat to their American bahu, the elders hung those gifts around with strings (their socks were too smelly, I guess) on a plastic replica of a Palm. The Tree, not a Punjah (in case you think they were making their alam do double duty). 

Please. Don't sicken me further by saying "Awww ... Shweeet!" ... My suggestion to the Lord and Master of the house was to go 'totus porcus' (a Wodehouse phrase that always makes me guffaw) and localize Father Christmas by having Abba Eeedoo appear, too. But he was not amused at the image I painted of his potbellied body coming down the chimney (they have one in his house!) dressed in a green dhoti, with a miswaak in one hand and a lota in the other. Eed Mubaarak!

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Blogger Teeth Maestro said...

Brilliant - thank you for sharing this narration with us all. I too wonder when will our mullahs finally agree to ONE religion... My guess is never...

23 October, 2006 13:38

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

23 October, 2006 14:37

Blogger Zakintosh said...

@teeth maetro: Your comment brought back an incident to my mind. Syed Zulfiqar Ali Bukhari (the younger brother of Patras) was once reciting a ghazal at a mushaerah where Maulana Kausar Nizai was sitting next to Maulana Ehteshamul Haque. He looked at them and said "ghaur farmaaiyay - agla shayr aap hee kay liyay hae ..." and then recited this:

Yeh jo haeñ shahr kay vaaez, yeh khateebané karaam
Yeh bhee Allaah ne chaaha to muslamaañ hoñgay

23 October, 2006 15:57

Blogger the olive ream said...

ZAK, this absolutely qualifies as one of your most enjoyable posts - history dipped in satire with a precise sprinkle of ridicule to highlight the insanity of the Eed declaration ritual. True hilarity, bravo!

I think the moonsighting committee should borrow from the American Groundhog day; if Ossama's beard is spotted sticking out of a cave, there's still two more days of rozas to follow.

Btw, the shayr you quoted to Teeth Maestro was so beautifully apt. I loved it!

24 October, 2006 00:54

Anonymous ayesha said...

That was a wonderful read - and a history lesson too for us young souls.

I am glad to note that minus the Itr, the rest of the traditions have survived in my family amd hoperfully, would continue to.

24 October, 2006 02:01

Anonymous BeanZ said...

Mazaydaar post!

High on my Eed aggravations list is receiving text messages and e-mails from supposedly educated people that read "Happy Eid Mubarak".

HAPPY Eid Mubarak??????

24 October, 2006 09:24

Blogger True Life said...

Eid Mubarak to you and everyone else who reads this. Remember me in your Duas.

24 October, 2006 16:33

Blogger Umera said...

what a wonderful post... I thoroughly enjoyed it

24 October, 2006 20:39

Blogger Sidhusaaheb said...

This is superb!

Meanwhile, another Saeed Jaffrey ( I know of is quite the funny man too, though he practises a different art form.

25 October, 2006 14:42

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@true life

i 've heard of other kinds of people 'soliciting' ..... but this was a first!

26 October, 2006 00:36

Blogger True Life said...

am I the only one confused by the comment above?!

26 October, 2006 18:04

Anonymous rayhan said...

Who knows, true life? Why don't you put up a poll on your site about this and stick to the topic on this one?

26 October, 2006 19:04


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