Tuesday, April 16, 2024

This Eid that was

The pattern of Eid celebrations has been changing with time. To get a glimpse of the Eid festivity more than half a century ago, New Age talked with four cultural personalities. They had almost the same observation that they do not find that enthusiasm and emotion for celebrating the day together with all relatives and friends these days compared with their days, be it financially a rich or a poor arrangement. Excerpts of these interviews given below:
Hasan Azizul Haque
Eid was not celebrated as a major festival in eminent litterateur Hasan Azizul Haque’s childhood in Rarh in India, the birthplace of the write. He grew up in a hostile time in a chaotic place in the early 1940s amid riots, famine and tumult of the World War II.
‘Inhabitants of the remote village in Paschimbanga were mostly poor peasants. Secondly, Muslims were the minority community. Although our family was financially solvent, we could not celebrate the festival regularly. In fact, in such time we used to wear old attires cleaning those with soda,’ Hasan Azizul Haque told New Age.
‘Occasionally we got half-pants and half-sleeve shirt in Eid. If we ever had any new clothes for Eid, we would hold them to our nose to get the smell of new dress for many days. But we never expected to get a new shoe. There was no choice but to use school shoes. I still remember the Eid day when I got a new “naughty boy” shoe.’
Despite all of these odds, Eid festival used to be celebrated together in the villege, he said.
‘On the Eid day we used to take bath in the pond early in the morning. My uncle used to give kohl in our eyes and atar on our dress. My paternal aunt used to offer us to drink water of jamjam,’ he said.
Even the location for the Eid congregation used to be finalised by the writer’s father. ‘The melody of the recitation of verses from the Qur’an by a person, a mason by profession who used to be the imam of the Eid prayer, still resonates in my ear,’ he said.
‘Returning from the prayer, we used to take rich food like vermicelli, polow and korma. Truly, I don’t find foods tasty like those days,’ he added.
Even there was very ordinary menu for Iftar in Ramadan. In fact, there was no other option but to be “sangjomi” meaning self-restrained. “Gurer sarbat” used to be the major attraction.’
Ferdausi Rahman
Renowned singer Ferdausi Rahman had different interesting experiences in Eid. As she was born and grew up in Balarampur in Cooch Bihar in India, she found Eid working as means of communal harmony.
‘People from other communities used to come to celebrate Eid with us. And the Eid celebrations used to start quite a few days before the Eid day since my mother used to make vermicelli in a machine at home. And all my siblings and cousins had the competition to turn the wheel of the machine round.’
‘On the Eid day, all of us used to perform in a play, written and directed by my uncle Abdul Karim on the lawn of our house in Balarampur. Villagers from all communities used to come to enjoy the Eid plays.’
Nature of festivity changed a little when her family migrated to Dhaka after the partition. ‘While living near Victoria Park in Old Dhaka, my father [iconic folk singer Abbasuddin Ahmed] used to take me along with my two brothers to say Eid prayers at the Paltan Maidan. I used to join the prayer wearing punjabi like my brothers did. Later on, I used to go to say Eid prayer with my mother at Fazlul Haque Hall at Dhaka University where women from aristocratic families used to go.’
‘All the renowned personalities of the cultural arena used to gather at our house at noon to take homemade Eid special vermicelli. It was mandatory for us to visit the relatives but there was no tradition Eid time baksheesh. In the evening, we used to render songs in Eid reunion programmes organised in different areas,’ she added.
Ferdausi Rahman still remembers an Eid in her life when she did not get any new attire. ‘Father decided to donate the Eid budget to our poor relatives. Such decision of not giving us any new attire in Eid made me very sad. Sensing our sorrow, father said, “Come, I teach you a new song”. He taught me a Nazrul song “Nai holo ma bashon bhushan”. While teaching the song, he frequently looked on my face to see whether there was any change in my emotion. But, I had no change actually. In the Eid evening at a programme, he told me to sing the song and I rendered it with full emotion and received tremendous response from everyone’, Ferdausi Rahman told New Age.
In later years, Ferdausi Rahman had even a different emotion about Eid since BTV and Bangladesh Betar still play ‘O mon ramzaner oi rojar sheshey,’ rendered by her, just after the announcement of Eid.
Aly Zaker
Eid, however, had always been a great festival in renowned actor Aly Zaker’s childhood days. All his family members used to spend the time together with enthusiasm and festivity.
The festival, indeed, used to begin many days before the Eid. His mother used to take all of his siblings in a car for shopping in Patuatuli in old Dhaka. A tailor named Abdur Rashid used to make new attires for his siblings. ‘Mother, however, intentionally kept a few goods to be purchased in the “chand raat” [the night before Eid day] and we together went for shopping in the night. Usually she used to purchase spices from Kunjolal Preetambar Saha’s shop on Nawabpur road in chand raat,’ Aly Zaker said.
‘Like others, we used to take bath early in the morning. I still remember that we did not want to get down from the bed considering new clothes would become dirty. Father, however, use to force us to go the Eid prayer at Gendariya Play Ground,’ he added.
‘It was the family tradition to visit relatives to show respect to the elderly people and the relatives and friends used to visit our home on the Eid day,’ he added.
Aly Zaker, however, considers his Eid celebration a special one when he was allowed to fast for the first time. ‘Then I was 11 and I was allowed to fast on the 27th Ramadan. In fact, for the first time I and my sister observed fasting. Subsequently, like my elder brother, I was given a blue punjabi for Eid, though I used to get half-pants and half-sleeve shirt in Eid,’ Aly Zaker told New Age.
‘I was so excited on the Eid day that I took more food than normal. Ultimately I had a stomach upset and suffered afterwards, he added.
Lubna Marium
Seasoned dancer-choreographer Lubna Marium used to celebrate Eid in a joint family ambiance. Whenever the Eid approached, she along with her family used to go to her maternal grandfather’s home in Chittagong to celebrate the Eid with her relatives.
‘Usually we went to Chittagong two weeks before the Eid for the appropriate preparation. And this period was really exciting and I don’t see a touch of such enjoyment these days,’ Lubna Marium told New Age.
‘It was the tradition that new attires used to be made in home and guests would be entertained with homemade foods. All of my siblings and cousins used to plan together for the Eid celebration. And the Eid appeared as the greatest source for family entertainment for which we used to wait for the next year,’ she added.

-With New Age input

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