A Blend of Love and Fete

Reshmi Naveen
Thursday, May 2, 2019

Aisha Umma, as we called our neighbour, sent one of her children to our house on some evenings to invite us for Iftar. And I was always a forerunner. As we enter her house, an aroma of ghee from her kitchen would bring water to the mouth. Fritters, cakes, juices and more traditional delicacies were spread on her dining table. When we were about to return, she packed some of them for my grandmother. On the day of Eid, every year, she sent us biriyani and sweets. The care and affection of this neighbourhood of my childhood days lost in course of time is a golden memory.

At school, I remember, some of us going out to the varandah to have our lunch as we know the flavours might irritate the fasting children. But to my surprise they would always sit near me, chit-chatting and giggling. I slowly realised that those days sacred gave them a strength to encounter all the desires. The willing abstention from food and water for 30 days and the routine prayers would mentally toughen a person to avoid unlawful infractions for the next one year. According to the Prophet, fasting is a shield that protects from evil deeds and it helps keep people ethicality intact. This holy month is truly a blessing.

During the college days, I recall taking two plates to the kitchen of the hostel. I had the rice and curries in one plate and the other one was kept safe for my fasting roommate. After breaking her fast, she had that rice and curries. I always felt that it was not easy for my Muslim friends to fast a month at a hostel which had shortage of basic amenities. The building of our hostel was more than 50 years old. It was hardly maintained until the inmates went on a day of hunger strike. In fact, the holy month of Ramadan fortified them.

Most of the dusks, after the prayer, we gathered with the friends (including the boys) outside the hostel for an iftar. Each of them would contribute the food they have bought or collected from hostel. We enjoyed the gathering and the variety of food.
A friend from Kannur district smuggled a kerosene stove to the hostel. Students cooking at their rooms inside the hostel was forbidden. We gathered at her room. With utmost care, we helped her cut onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic et cetera. It was a collective effort of making a yummy biriyani which we served among ourselves with a salad. We even pooled money to buy sweets. We always saved from our pocket money for festivals. It was risky, but we greeted each other ‘Eid Mubarak’ and celebrated it with pomp and show.

After coming to Kuwait, we meet at one of the friend’s house for an iftar/s. Every family cooks one or two Malabar delicacies and break the fast together. On Eid-Ul-Fitr, we would enjoy biriyani, sweets and more. The children were given ‘eidee’ (token money) by the elders.
For us, every festival is filled with gifts, warm embraces, and a spread of feast. Ramadan is not only about a culinary journey, but offering alms or Zakat-al-fitr to the needy. It is a strong message of giving the heart out.

The media would often break interesting news stories like a sea of devotees performing Eid Gah at a temple ground. But it is a common phenomenon in India. Ours is a country of unity in diversity. Rather than calling it mere religious harmony, I would call it love. And with a great spirit we celebrate every festival- may it be Eid, Christmas or Diwali-alike.

Reshmi Naveen Gopal is a freelance writer. She is a post graduate in Communication and Journalism. She has worked with main stream print media and online journals. She has been a faculty in communication and journalism at a couple of colleges.
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