BY YUSRA AHMAD
Dina Saeed / Shutterstock
I glanced up and around the vibrant room, filled with the warmth of close relatives and faces I recognized since birth, yet not a single drop of chatter. Everyone was so concerned and dedicated to their prayers while seated at the dining table. I skimmed the sight in front of me; the transparent glass table with a Chester brown wooden structure that stood empty a few hours ago; was now filled with a range of traditional Pakistani recipes. Tempted by the smell of the delights in front of me, my eyes lit up in surprise, mesmerized by the aroma of Pakistani edibles as I held my temptations from a dreadfully long eight hour fasting day. A few classic delights I spotted instantly were samosas, a fried pastry filled with a spicy vegetarian filling of potatoes, and pakoras, a dumpling consisting of creamy spinach and cornflour. There were also shortbread dumplings made by my mother, indicated by the delicacy on each dumpling. In addition, my grandma made a family traditional drink, chilled rose lemonade. I imagined a young child on a hot summer day washing down the refreshing drink in one giant gulp. In an attempt to distract myself, I peered around the room, and a glimpse caught my eye. The sunset shone brilliantly, lighting the entire sky like a glorious conflagration, as it gracefully dipped below the horizon, the last gasp of beauty before the death of the day, intelligently contrasting against the white pane of the expansive window. Lost in my thoughts as mice and butterflies raced through my empty stomach, a sudden yet soulful voice alarmed me. The speakers at the local mosque amplified the athan, symbolizing the end of fasting, the national anthem, and the calling of God; the soothing voice relieved me as if I had forgotten my hunger. I slowly watched as the quiet room broke into polite chatter, and the feast began. Dating back to an Islamic tradition in the 7th century, everyone broke their fast with an Arabian date.
Afterward, my family lounged in the back garden on the patio, breathing the fresh night air, sipping Kashmiri Chai, a pink or rosy-hued tea originating from the Indian Subcontinent, which tastes like a creamsicle with a sweet strawberry flavor, as the last spark of the light faded the sky. As I studied the dark and graciously clear sky, wrapped around the warmth of pink tea, the new crescent moon appeared in sight like a wraith-silver salver hanging in the lonely sky. Tendrils of moonlight brightened my mood as I shrieked in glee, realizing that today was the 30th fast, and the moon sighting indicated that tomorrow is Eid! A new sensation of excitement filled the house as everyone began Eid preparations. From last-minute dress alterations to preparing the feast for Eid day, the buzz and enthusiastic attitudes lasted the entire tireless night.
As the first streak of dawn reached my drowsy face from a small opening in the window, I sat up instantly in a split second, ready to celebrate the end of Ramadan, the holy fasting month. I showered and changed into my scarlet red sequined and heavily embroidered dress. My dress was a traditional Pakistani dress, with a long shirt, pants, and a scarf. I wore a scarlet red chiffon dress, embellished with gold sequins and other tiny ornaments, and carefully embroidered in the front and on the baggy gold sleeves, with the hems delicately pressed and hand-sewn patterns paired with gold chiffon pants and a silk gold and scarlet red striped scarf. To accompany my dress, I wore elegant gold studded earrings in the shape of a teardrop, bordered by an opaque metallic silver outline. The gold luster of the delicate jewelry glimmered as if the sun was radiating its warmth, yet the silver borders reminded me of the crescent moon brightening the night sky. My hands were covered with beautiful and intricate patterns of henna, skillfully drawn as a form of art, while my gold and red glass bangles covered with glitter and sparkle caged the henna underneath.
I hustled downstairs and was readily perplexed and astonished by the decorations and festivities arranged. I carefully stepped onto each stair step around the spiral staircase, cautioned steadily by the glimmering heels I wore, as my hand wrapped around the railing, covered with a vibrant string of lights with the striking color contrast of white and green light. As I walked into the living room, I paused in bewilderment; the walls emerged with Eid Mubarak posters and exotic resplendent banners with delicate Arabic calligraphy and ornaments with scented candles, streamers, and lights. I glanced around the room; I was mesmerized by the transformation of the living room. Later, at a local mosque, we prayed Eid prayers and continued with our festivities at home with friends and family. After greeting all family members, the adults' gifted children an envelope of money, referred to as Eidi, as a token to appreciate and celebrate the 30 days of fasting and worship.
The festivities never failed to amaze me, from mouthwatering appetizers to succulent desserts. Traditional Pakistani delights were essential on a celebration like Eid. A few main dishes included biryani, long-grained rice flavored with exotic spices, such as saffron, layered with lamb, chicken or vegetables, and a thick gravy, nihari, a breakfast dish made with an array of spices and kewda water, and haleem, a rich mutton stew made with coarsely pounded meat. In terms of dessert, a traditional Pakistani recipe my mother prepared is kheer, a sweet South Asian dish made by boiling rice with milk, sugar, spices, and sometimes nuts and other ingredients until it thickens to the consistency of gruel.
After a delightful meal and the opportunity to meet many distant relatives, Eid slowly came to an end. Reflecting upon the festivities and celebrations, I recognized that Eid was one of the most auspicious occasions awaited by Muslims, as it was a time to enjoy and give back to the community, especially those less fortunate. However, it was a moment spent with family and friends, to enjoy and spread the tiny satisfaction and pleasures of life.