Saturday, 4 October 2014

Eid mubarak.

I was going to write a light hearted piece about shopping, but events in the news made this seem very light-hearted and trivial, so I'm changing tack.

We are fortunate to live in a very interesting place among people from a variety of nations and with an indigenous population who seem happy to share their space with the world.  I understand that there is a quid pro quo, but on the whole it seems to work, a win-win situation.  

However if an alien were to land and read the paper or watch the news they may think that the majority of the world is not like that.  They could think that most people are doing their utmost to ruin the lives of anybody who doesn't see things the same way as them and that it is the norm to act with great savagery and prejudice.  But to go away with that impression would be shame, as I believe the opposite is true.

I'm currently struggling to come up with one word to describe a group of people who are smaller than the smallest of minorities, is microcosm sufficient?  A group whose actions push them to the forefront of the news ahead of any features which concern work which is for the general good of mankind or encourages bonhomie, two areas that encapsulate the vast majority of human endeavour.

So my good news report is about a day of joy, as today is one of the Eid celebrations.  I'm not going to explain in detail the origins of the festival, mainly because I don't know much about it and I'm not about to re-cycle a load of information from Wikipedia, that you can look up yourself if you feel so inclined.  All I'm going to do is outline what I've gleaned from discussing it with people who celebrate the occasion.

In that respect it seems the same format as special days throughout the world, including time spent with family, special food and a day off work/school.  More recently it would appear that consumerism has begun to creep in but that is inevitable I guess?  If the big loser at Christmas time is the humble turkey, an animal that is left alone by the majority of people for the rest of the year yet eaten with abandon for one day only, the beast of choice over Eid is the sheep or goat, depending on who you ask.  As we live in a rural area, many local families still raise and despatch their own animals so there is still a direct connection with the source of their meal.

The turkey, in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Big, slow and tasty, it's never forgiven the Founding Fathers or whoever it was who first sought out a regular supply of meat for a celebration in North America.

A great deal of emphasis is placed on looking good at the family gathering so new clothes are an important part of the preparation.  Elaborate collections of sweets are prepared by the local stores, sometimes to be given as gifts but always it seems shared with family and friends. Street decorations are evident but subtle and there are no noisy outdoor manifestations of celebration like we see on National Day.

It seems like an understated day of private gathering, sharing and of goodwill, messages which in my opinion should be on the front page of every newspaper and on every TV station.

I finish with a profound reflection from one of my students who is of the wise old age of 12 years:

Me:  'What do you think of Eid'?

Him:  'I don't like it, lots of old ladies come round the house and talk all day.  I have no-where to sit as they take all the chairs'.

Me:  'Who are these old ladies'?

Him:  'I have no idea'..

Well everyone is entitled to their opinion.

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