Eid of foreigners

Albert Arooj Bhatti


As soon as the Eid comes, the dying faces glow. This day marks the end of the holy month of Ramazan, a time dedicated to fasting so that Muslims learn the importance of the things they might take for granted. On this day, Muslims from around the world gather for prayer celebrations, families and friends get together, rejoice, and share their Ramazan experience.
People greet each other with ‘Eid Mubarak’ (Blessed Eid) and with formal embraces. Sweet dishes are prepared at home and gifts are given to children and to those in need. In addition, Muslims are encouraged to forgive and seek forgiveness. In Pakistan, people of all religions celebrate Eid together.
Despite being Christians, we also celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha with our Muslim friends in the same traditional way. And sometimes we used to arrange Iftar for Muslim brothers during Ramazan and sometimes we collect Haleem donations during Muharram.
All my life I have never felt that I belong to a different religion or neither someone has made me feel this way. We always found our Muslim friends as our own and that is why on the occasion of Eid, we always buy new attire and footwear.  
One thing that is stuck in my mind is the Eid of foreigners. All of us have some dear ones, who are working day and night across the seas to provide happiness to our families. A few years ago, I have also spent Ramazan and Eid-ul-Fitr in the United Arab Emirates.
At the end of the month of Ramazan, the shopping malls in Dubai were crowded, but the saddest thing was that there was no one to greet and hug on the day of Eid. The real agony of living in abroad begins this very moment. The very instant you step outside of the house, there is silence. The streets are deserted. The most we can do abroad is put in an effort to make the day feel a little different than any other day.
Normally in Pakistan, the early morning of the Eid-ul-Fitr is different. One of the most charming things about any country’s heritage is the celebration of its unique cultural conventions. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your religion is, everyone tries to greet and hug each other. As a Pakistani, there is nothing more magical than the annual celebration of Eid.
The desire of celebrating Eid in abroad was stolen by desolation. The foreigners were mourning their sadness by talking to their families on the phone. Those who are closed to their families may never experience the suffering of foreigners that we did.
The entire year, the hours fly fast, but not on Eid-ul-Fitr for the foreigners. The hours are infinitely long and the silence more prominent. Eid is the name of sharing happiness, it is the name of celebrating, and it is the name of embracing everyone. And if a person is not able to embrace his children or family even on the occasion of Eid and cannot rejoice or reunite with them, then there is no difference in the day.
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