Keeping their homeland's traditions alive
Asif and Faryal with their four children - Faique, 10, Mahibah, 7, Anayah, 5 and three-year-old Mysha.
Ajman - The Kanwal family say that "keeping traditions" alive is very important to them, especially during the month of Ramadan.
Pakistan is only four hours away by flight from the UAE, but one family is keen on recreating their nation's traditions in their Ajman home.
The Kanwal family say "keeping traditions" alive is very important to them, especially during the month of Ramadan. Some of their traditions include "feeling the rush" of buying fruits on the eve of Ramadan, as well as visiting their friends' homes and inviting them over for a lavish iftar meal.
"It is very important to keep the traditions alive. It remains one of the few practices that truly belongs to me, my family and close friends. It allows me and them to cherish the very valuable memories created over the years," said Asif Kanwal, a senior web designer who moved to the UAE in 2012.
Some other traditions of the Kanwal family are going for Taraweeh (the prayers after Isha) with family members. "We do try to keep them (traditions) alive here in UAE by having regular family gatherings. Sometimes, we go to their place and sometimes they come to our place to go for Taraweeh with the family," he said.
Asif's wife, Faryal, tries to keep those traditions alive by cooking meals and hosting friends and family, as they would do back in Pakistan. She follows the same timetable as in her home country when preparing the Iftar meal. "I start preparing around 5pm and normally. When it's the traditional Iftar, it will be four to five dishes, including fruit chat, pakoras and samosas," she said.
Asif and their children help her in setting the table for Iftar and prepare for the big feast. "My husband does help me in preparation most of the time by either cutting the fruits or helping me fry the items. My eldest daughter helps me in setting the table."
Faryal learned how to cook from her mother at an early age. "I was fond of cooking from a very young age, which helped me a lot. I do make some dishes but it has been modified from time to time according to the tastes of my family," she said.
Asif and Faryal have four children, Faique, 10, Mahibah, 7, Anayah, 5 and three-year-old Mysha.
"The spirit of Ramadan has a lot of traditions attached to it, both religious and cultural. It has always meant a lot to me. I love making food not just for the family but for others as well, so at least I can show the tradition of giving in my own way and would love my children to follow the same," she said.
Asif says he's "in love" with his wife's cooking and some of his favourite dishes from Faryal include, dahi balay (lentil dumplings in yogurt sauce), spring rolls and cheese balls. After the family has indulged in a traditional Pakistani cuisine for Iftar, Asif and the kids help clean up.
The family strongly believes in working together to do the house chores, instead of leaving them to the mom. "We all clean up afterward, as it's become kind of a tradition for my family to clear everything together once we are done," Faryal said.
Faryal and Asif want to pass on these traditions to their children and hope they will carry them on.