Experiencing Eid in two different countries - M Murshed Haider Anjohn
[English Text only]
Eid-Ul-Fitr is the prime festival celebrated by the Muslims all over the world. It’s amazing that Muslims living in different countries rejoice this event in different ways. Being a Bangladeshi national, I always enjoyed the Eid day here in Bangladesh, no matter whether the place is Dhaka or somewhere else within the country. However, when I headed for Canberra, Australia in the year 2004 for my higher study, I knew its going to be one of the most terrible Eid days to come. Well, to my surprise it was actually not. It’s true that while being in Canberra I missed my parents, siblings & Dhaka friends/others while celebrating the Eid days during my stay over there (i.e. 2004 till 2007); but it’s also true that I enjoyed the unique way of celebrating the Eid in Canberra, specially the delicious foods cooked by the bhabi(s) & bhaiya(s). And this year (2008), though I got back my siblings, parents & all my friends here in Dhaka, I really missed my Canberra mates, missed the touch of Eid celebration that Canberra does.
In Bangladesh, the preparation of Eid actually starts right from the beginning of the month of Ramadan. The prices of the iftari materials usually go up, shopping malls gets crowded day by day, office time changes significantly, street shops get piled up with delicious iftari items, hotels & restaurants are usually not opened before the noon, frequency of attending the prayers into mosques gets increased – in fact, the daily routine of most of the people in Bangladesh gets changed quite significantly during this whole month.
On the contrary, In Australia, the month of Ramadan doesn’t affect the life style too much, simply because it’s not a Muslim country like Bangladesh. It’s not possible there to get your office time changed for such long period like a month. Fortunately, people doing official jobs usually get back to home before the iftari time & have the iftari with the family members. People doing jobs that are on shift basis (like working for restaurant, fast food or driving taxi etc) sometimes end up with having just the drinking water at the iftari time & taking iftari at later time. I remember when I was a student, I used to work for Woolworths as a part timer (night-filling job). During the Ramadan time, I had to start my shift at 6:30 pm, while the iftari time was at 7:15 pm. So, I could only drink some water at 7:15 pm & had to wait till 9:00 pm to break my day long fasting with some heavy food.
There are also some significant differences between these two countries regarding the way of Eid celebration during the Eid day. In Bangladesh, only the males attend the Eid prayer at mosques while the females attend the Eid prayer at home, prepare the food, keep the house neat & tidy for the guests to come over at their place and also don’t usually get the opportunity to visit the friends & relatives. Now, here comes the big difference. In Australia, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re a male or female, old or young, boy or girl, matured or a kid – it’s everyone who goes to the mosques & attends the Eid prayer. So, it gives every single individual to feel the joy of Eid, to meet & embrace the friends & others at the mosque. It’s absolutely amazing, isn’t it!
However, the best & unique part of Eid celebration in Canberra is the ‘Open House’ mechanism which allows every family to visit almost every other family. Just couple of weeks before the Eid, Bangladeshi Community website www.priyoaustralia.com.au initiates a dedicated page that allows the enthusiastic families to declare the hosting time, date & venue. Usually the invitations are open for all and continue with the following weekend. Obviously, the larger the community becomes, the harder it’d become to visit the increasing number of families or friends. However, even if you can’t, the Bangladesh Australia Association in Canberra at its ‘Eid reunion program’ would give you the opportunity to meet & greet with the larger community members within a week or so. The program itself gives everyone the opportunity to taste various delicious dishes made & brought by different families.
Back in Bangladesh, some of our family members hold the concept that their son/daughter or other family members living in abroad might not having a proper Eid in overseas. All I can say to them is …. ‘Don’t even worry for them. They’re not having anything less over there.’