BROTHERS NIZAMUDDIN Asar and Khair Mohammad, hailing from Afghanistan and studying here, came to Chandigarh from Mohali on Monday morning to attend special Eid prayers at Jama Masjid in Sector 20. It was not just the Eid prayers that brought them to the city. At the mosque, about 50 fellow Afghans, studying at Panjab University, Chandigarh University and various city colleges, were already there for the prayer and a get-together.
For Afghani students studying in Tricity, Eid is a day to replicate the tradition of festival back home here in the city. Around 1,000 kilometres from home, students from different parts of the city came together to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr on Monday.
“Every Eid, we attend prayers at one place and then in groups, we visit different areas where Afghani students are living. Today, we will have Eid lunch together with my friends. Many students organise trips and go to places like Dharamsala and Shimla,” says Asar, a postgraduate student of political science at Panjab University. “A group of Afghani friends, who recently arrived in the city, went to Sukhna Lake today after the prayers,” he adds.
For Asar and Khair, who belong to Khost Province in East Afghanistan, Eid celebrations in the city are not the same as back home. “Eid is celebrated for three days in Afghanistan. But here, it seems to disappear within hours of the Eid Namaz,” says Mohammad. “We go to houses of relatives and friends on Eid for greetings and celebration but here, the compatriots are our everything,” says Asar. “We meet and celebrate together to at least create that feeling of being at home.”
On Monday, as the country celebrated Eid-ul-Adha, Muslims in Tricity, too, took part in the festivities. At major mosques and prayer grounds, thousands of Muslims participated in the Eid prayers. Dressed in new clothes, young and old thronged the Tricity mosques in the morning.
After offering Eid prayers at the Jamia mosque, the two brothers, along with a few friends, went to fellow Afghani Yasmeen ul Allah’s flat at Sector 27 for a get-together and special lunch prepared for Eid. “I am the host today. Around 10 of us will have lunch together. We have prepared some dishes today,” says Yasmeen, a BCA student at SD College in Sector 32.
There are over 500 students from Afghanistan but due to summer vacations, most of them have gone home for Eid. PU and the city colleges are a favourite place for Afghan students as most of them come to India with scholarship.
20-year-old Obaid ul Allah, an SD College student from Kunduz province in Afghanistan, says though he has celebrated many Eids in the city, it lacks colour and the feel of celebrations back home. “Meeting your mother and telling her ‘Eid Mubarak’ is obviously a feeling you cannot get here. It is not the same as what we witness back home. It is a celebration for the whole country unlike here where it is restricted to a few houses only. I miss the traditional Attan dance, which is a special attraction during Eid back home,” adds Obaid.
Asar and Khair, meanwhile, say they have to meet some of their Afghan friends at Sector 15.