Unfestive Festivals

Eid-ul-Fitr-moon-2013

The month of festivities is here. Today, the first of Ramadan. Celebrations. Joy fills up every household. Special preparations are made. Exotic dishes prepared. Early morning feasts. Late night prayers. Everything turns blissful and beautiful. Blessings pour in purifying everyone and everything.

No soul is left without being blessed. But the joys are not equal for all. Blessings don’t vary, but conditions do! Some people get exiled by choice. And for them, it is equally challenging. While people at home have the ease of getting up and eating whatever dishes mom has prepared, people in stranger places wonder what they would even eat. No cook comes in that early to serve food. And the hectic schedules render you incapable of cooking yourself, especially at the morning meal. And the folks who like in hostels, it is almost a nightmare. “Would they even serve food or we have to fast by drinking water only?”

Living away from home can be a nightmare in such times. With nothing to eat in mornings and nothing special to open fast with, even the toughest souls miss home. Every soul in such exiles secretly wishes to be home and enjoy the blessings. But had it been as easy as to say so, who would not go back home?  Many  a times people can only yearn for this with no way to do so. Responsibilities, work, studies, there is always something to bind them. And their clutches are too strong to be broken easily.

Another issue that creeps up is that at most of the places they would not have a mosque nearby. Hence they either need to travel a lot to get to one, or rely on some prayer app for the timings. Though they prove to be a huge relief, there is always a sense of ambiguity as to whether the app timings are correct or not. This notion brings forth another problem. What if the app shows iftar timings earlier than the actual? Or what if they are late?

The apps are doubted because they have static calendars. On 30th Shaban, apps displayed the date as 1st Ramadan. How much can such apps be trusted? Can somebody really rely on them for pre-dawn meal and iftar timings? Not really! That gives people another reason to miss home. Azaan from a nearby mosque would mark the start and end of their fast. Newspapers would carry timings for the whole month. There would be reminders everywhere. And in these exiled lands, there is not even one! Barren.

Living away is not only a matter of freedom. It also carries along difficulty. Sometimes it symbolizes a test, sometimes punishment. Many people view it as a preparation for future life. Maybe there is something harder to face. Hence this preparation. Maybe they sinned earlier in lives, hence this punishment. And for many, it is a trial. A difficult one.

Not all can really survive in a foreign land and pray with happiness. More often than not, tears accompany every prayer. Sometimes even without prayers. Consoling selves with the thoughts of how much Allah loves them. That He is creating a means of forgiveness for them. That if this is a trial, they for sure are on the right path!

And many of them would stay up all night so they may not miss pre-dawn meal and fajr prayers.

May all such souls be blessed with immense strength and patience to endure it. To survive a plethora of memories and celebrating unfestive festivals!

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