Eid celebrations bring aching joys to these Arab expats

Eid celebrations bring aching joys to these Arab expats
KT file photos

Dubai - UAE Muslim expats reminisce feast celebrations in the past

By Sherouk Zakaria

Published: Sun 11 Sep 2016, 3:28 PM

Last updated: Mon 12 Sep 2016, 1:33 AM

From celebrations and family visits, Eid has become associated with bittersweet memories to many over the years.
Be it the political or economic instability, modern life's difficulties or technology that segregated families, residents agreed that people are now more driven away from each other than ever before.
For 45-year-old Ahmed Ali Ismail, the four-day feast that is marked by sacrificing animals, once meant gathering distant cousins, aunts and elderly family members, around delicious food prepared after Eid Al Adha's prayers and sacrifice.
"Endless phone calls commenced weeks ahead of the occasion, and excessive amounts of food was prepared by grandma with assistance of other female relatives," noted Egyptian national Ismail.
"But the praise of succulent dishes soon gave way later to a funnier part of the ritual, watching female family members being teased by our comments on their cooking skills."
"We didn't really have much to struggle about and life was fairly simple and easily figured out," said Ismail.
He added that family relations has become virtual and social networking websites have isolated people and loosened family ties.
He attributed the isolation to modern life struggles. "life has gotten tougher and the cost of food and transportation has become unaffordable. People are now burdened that they fail to feel the real spirit of celebration."
But the joy Eid still brings to children is something worth smiling at. "What chills me out is how feast still make children glow with happiness regardless to modern family rivalries and present conflict within Arab societies," said Ismail. 
Past life was easier
Echoing similar thoughts was 65-year-old Samya Ibrahim who said life's challenges have dragged people away from one another.  
"Back then, we used to buy the sacrificial animal around eight months before Eid starts. We raised it and fed it until it grew so big that we ran away from it as children," Ibrahim laughed. 
The Egyptian national said the feast was a much-anticipated occasion that everyone looked forward to. From baking Eid delicacies with neighbors to performing prayers with relatives, the feast brought by true meanings of celebrations. 
"The family connections and gatherings were precious. But today, you do not even hear the door knock once," noted Ibrahim.
She said, "Life in the past was easy. Nowadays, people juggle more than one job to make a living. People are so carried away that no one has the energy to connect."
A magnifying glass
For the Palestinian national Rawan Al Hussain, Eid has become a "magnifying glass through which we look at the world around us."
"As kids, the feast for us revolved around seeing relatives, taking Eideya (eid money) and buying new clothes. Now Eid serves as a reminder to look at what the world has reached to and reflect," said the 24-year-old.
She added, "When I compare Eid with Western celebrations, it makes me realize that we do not celebrate like we have to. Amidst life's burdens, we have to try to keep it as alive as possible."
Ula Aboutiman, 24, who left Iraq in 2004, said the occasion was about preparations and family gatherings.
"Up to five years ago, we used to call and greet my grandparents and relatives who are still in Baghdad. Now we just talk on WhatsApp out of duty," said Aboutiman.
Like Ismail and Ibrahim, she said that stress and life's pressures brought down the joy.
"You don't feel happy when you know people are dying somewhere. You worry about them and about yourself at the same time. How to maintain a living when the market is down and prices are going up?"
If there's one thing you wish to bring from Eid in the past, what would it be?
Aboutiman said, "The spirit, the joy and simplicity of Eid. Spending quality time with my family without the stress of life"
Ismail echoed, "Peace of mind, innocence and simplicity. We miss the value of forgiveness amongst all people whether in families and within societies."

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