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Friday, April 03, 2020

The Beauty of the Sky

From its elusive moon to the festivities that follow,Eid has inspired many an Urdu poet

Written by Rakhshanda Jalil | Published: August 9, 2013 5:50:01 pm

From its elusive moon to the festivities that follow,Eid has inspired many an Urdu poet

Poets have waxed eloquent on the excitement surrounding the sighting of the new moon,its tremulous beauty,and the feverish anticipation it generates among its viewers

Both Ramzan and Eid bring with them the delicious tension of not knowing. Does one fast the next day? Or,does one not? Does one cook mounds of food for the feast that must follow the next day? Or,does one keep all preparations on hold for another day? Does one set the alarm for the pre-dawn meal,or sehri,if one is fasting the next day? Or,can one enjoy the luxury of sleeping a few more hours,if one is not? For,everything depends on the sighting of the new moon,the hilal,the proverbial Eid ka chand which,quite literally,kal ho na ho! Every year,the scene is unchanging,in families rich and poor,rural or urban,nuclear or joint. People crowd on rooftops,vying to catch the first sight of the hilal,which is usually a silvery crescent skimming the tops of trees and buildings before it disappears in the twinkling of an eye. Soon after the iftaar and hurried maghrib prayer (especially hurried because the new moon can be sighted only for a few precious moments in the western sky),young and the old rush outdoors to ‘sight’ the moon. The older members of the family tell the younger ones precisely where to train the eye,for the new moon is not high in the sky,nor very clearly visible. One must know exactly where to look. So,between eager cries of ‘There… near that tree’ or ‘There,next to that bit of cloud!’ or ’Just above that building over there’,everyone is craning their necks,pointing and peering,squinting into the darkening sky. A great deal of Urdu poetry centres on the Eid moon. Poets have waxed eloquent on the excitement surrounding the sighting of the new moon,its tremulous beauty,its delicate shape like an arched eyebrow perched on the forehead of the twilight sky and the feverish anticipation it generates among its viewers. On its beauty,the late Shahryar had written: Eid ke chand tujh nikalne se Aasman-e-husn mein izafa hua (Eid Moon,with your appearance The beauty of the sky is enhanced) On the delights that follow its sighting,Tilok Chand declared: Door se yeh tera ishara hai Auj par aish ka sitara hai (From a distance,you have indicated The delights that shall soon reach their zenith) Then,there are the cornier sentiments associated with the opportunities of closeness afforded by the festivities,once written on Eid cards,but now yet another casualty of the SMS culture: Eid ka din hai gale aaj to mil le zalim Rasm-e-duniya bhi hai,mauqa bhi hai,dastur bhi hai (It is Eid today,come embrace me,O cruel one Tradition allows it,so does the time and occasion) Sahib-e-aqal hain aap,ek masla to hall kijiye Rukh-e-yaar nahin dekha, kya meri Eid ho gayi? (You are intelligent,so solve this puzzle for me If I haven’t seen my beloved’s face,is it still Eid for me?) Aur dinon ka hisab rehnay do,Yeh batao,Eid pe yaad karoge? (Forget about other days Tell me,will you remember me on Eid?) In my childhood,Eid mornings were a time of hustle and bustle. My mother rushing from the kitchen to the buffet table,my father hurrying my brother who was always late for the namaz and because of whom both father and brother ended up being the last people to catch the prayer,often offering it on the road since the masjid would be chock-a-block by the time they made it. Over the years,the dramatis personae of my Eids have changed,but the pattern has remained largely unchanged. By 9.30 am,the men are usually back from the masjid and the doorbell has begun to ring endlessly,heralding the arrival of a deluge of visitors. The deluge will show no signs of relenting till lunch. After a short lull between 3 and 4 pm when the household draws a breath,the kitchen staff finishes washing mounds of used cutlery,men take a nap and omen freshen up for the evening assault,the visitors start again. In between all this,one steals out for a few hurried calls to elderly relatives and close neighbours as well as a visit to the graveyard. Amidst the general bonhomie,the excitement of new clothes and gifts,it is easy to forget that Eid is not merely an occasion to binge,visit melas and display a conspicuous onsumption of wealth; it carries an important message which is integral to the spirit of Islam. Its very name,Eid-ul-Fitr,is resonant with the message of thanksgiving and sharing. Every Muslim is dutybound to pay the zakat-al-fitr before the end of the period of fasting. In earlier times,this was a fixed amount of wheat,dates or barley for each member of the household. Nowadays,it is generally taken to be the money equivalent to 2.5 kilos of wheat per person. Nazir Akbarabadi,the 18thcentury poet,summed the general sentiment on Eid day in most Muslim households,when he wrote: Rozon ki sakhtiyon mein na hote agar aseer To aisi Eid ki na khushi hoti dil pazeer (Had we not been captured by the severity of the roza We would not have known the heartwarming joy of Eid)

Jalil is a Delhi-based writer

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