Festivals of Pakistan

Written By: Zubeda Rafiq

We Muslims celebrate a number of events throughout the year but not all of those are part of our culture. Hence, we are quite influenced by the media and practices of other religions that we adopt them and make it part of our culture. Our religion doesn’t allow us to celebrate events like Valentine's Day, Mehndi during the course of weddings, Basant, etc as they are not part of our religion. Eid-ul-Azha and Eid-ul-Fitr are integral part of our culture and both have their own significance in the light of Islam.

These two religious festivals bring joy and happiness to the lives of many Pakistanis. It starts from having yummy sweets to the Eid milan parties that kids have in school, thus it's all about adding a little ‘spice in our lives’ and many lessons to be learnt from the teachings of Islam. Different attributes make these events joyous and apart from this, the whole bazaar is full of lights, happening environment, making the whole experience of shopping for Eid a joyous one.

Ramadan is a holy month for the Muslims and it is their belief that during this month the Holy Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). This is the month in which Muslims are not allowed to eat, drink or smoke during the day and are to break their fast when the sun sets. Ramadan, the month of fasting for all the Muslims lasts for either 29 or 30 days, and thus the end of this holy month is the beginning of Eid-ul-Fitr. This is a religious festival bestowed upon Muslims which teaches us to follow all the Islamic rules and principles. It even forms a strong bond among all individuals. Not only youngsters, but people of all ages wait for this big day. During this month we, the Muslims fast and ask for forgiveness from Allah. Children enjoy this festival mainly due to the culture of receiving “Eidi” and the preparation of various scintillating food items.

Eid is the time to have fun, meet everyone, spread happiness and love, thus creating a sense and feeling of belonging in our hearts. This joyful moment full of colors and excitement occurs on the first day of Shawwal, which is the tenth month in the Islamic Calendar. On the occasions that are Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha Muslims wear new clothes and go to mosques for special Eid prayers which are a bit different from everyday prayers. After thanking the Almighty Allah, they come back and have breakfast with their families, and from here the plan to celebrate these occasion starts by deciding where to go and what to do.

Moreover, females decorate their houses and dress themselves beautifully by wearing bangles, go out at chand raat to apply henna (mehndi) on hands and cook delicious foods like Haleem, Biryani, Korma, etc

Children are eager to go at different places to meet their relatives and to enjoy the traditional sweets, dishes and most importantly the Eidi that they get from elders. They enjoy the love and gifts that they get from everyone. Food makes up an essential part of this event, thus every household makes it a point to prepare delicious food items for their family and relatives.

In order to make this event more memorable, often sweets are taken to relatives’ house to show gratitude and to share this moment of happiness of their life. This Eid is a road to unity and towards building healthy relationship among all, thus bringing all Muslims together in a mosque to offer Eid Prayers.

Eid-ul-Adha has its own significance and is known as the "Festival of Sacrifice". It is a vital religious festival celebrated by Muslims all over to venerate the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) to sacrifice his son as an act of submission to God. Moreover, the practices are the same as in Eid-ul-Fitr but on this Eid Muslims sacrifice a domestic animal, that is, a goat, a cow, a sheep or a camel, as a symbol of Ibrahim's sacrifice.

This Eid is enjoyed mostly by youngsters who go to various markets to purchase their choice of sacrificial animal. Moreover they have races between their purchased goats or cows with those of friends and other family members, take them on walks, give them food and take care of these animals. On the other hand, Eid-ul-Adha is mostly enjoyed by girls and women as they spend most of the time shopping and are an asset to the shop owners due to heavy spending.

However, a few necessary acts have to be performed on this day in accordance to our religion. These include waking up early in the morning, do miswak and take a bath, to use perfume and not to eat anything before Eid prayers, to pronounce Takbir loudly and to do sacrifice after prayers. Another differentiating ritual between both the events is that the meat of the slaughtered animals is distributed among the poor, friends, relatives and neighbors. This religious event gives an opportunity to the rich to help the poor and helps in the development of geniality between them. Moreover, on this occasion food items cooked in homes are more towards the meat of the slaughtered animals, that is, beef and mutton items and often families tend to have barbeque at their places. Furthermore, a lot of tasty, delicious spices are added to raw meat to make food mouth watering, thus the aroma of it can be smelt even from far distances.

Thus, these rituals are an essential part of our culture and give us teachings of Islam. They both have their own significance and practices are almost the same. The differentiating factor is only the sacrifice of domestic animals on the occasion of Eid-ul-Adha. We Muslims should celebrate these occasions with more enthusiasm, dedication and commitment as they give us feeling of unity and brotherhood.

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