As a Pakistani-Muslim American, I celebrate the holy month of Ramadan, as all those stemming from Islam do. I am not a truly religious person, and sometimes this fact becomes me. However, I, and Muslims all around the world, no matter their personalities or preferences of any sort, cherish Ramadan for the sense of spirituality, togetherness, and faith it gifts us every year.
Nevertheless, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, many families were not able to spend the Ramadan of 2020 with friends and family as they normally do. Delicacies such as pistachio sprinkled baklava, spiced rice, with flavors from every corner of the world coloring it with various deep hues, constantly melting in one’s mouth as soon as a spoonful graces the tip of their tongue, cilantro garnish lentil soup, and the excitement of seeing those closest to us during such a religious month were stolen from Muslims due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
But even a worldwide infectious disease could not halt the onslaught of South Asian, as well as those who are heir to different ethnicities, women who wish to socialize. Families and friends, including my own, from around the globe had scheduled virtual events in which all gather to break their fasts over something called iftaari. Being able to see familiar faces, save for the tones I am accustomed to, every few weeks was truly refreshing and, and it is safe to say that it likely brought joy to even the coldest of hearts. Eid ul-Fitr was similar.
Though many Muslims were heartbroken due to not being able to greet those who they cherish most, and partake in the various traditions which families and friends had created over the years, small, safe get-togethers were prominent. In place of the annual vivacious parties many throw and attend the weeks following one of Islam’s prized holidays, families such as my own attended socially-distanced meet-ups so that Eid did not feel too sorrowful.
Although it was truly painful to bear the curse of not being able to even embrace my closest friends and gobble up the multitudes of food over weeks of Eid celebrations, Eid ul-Fitr may have been the most memorable end to Ramadan for many, as it taught my fellow brothers and sisters how to appreciate what we have, for some bear the utterly saddening burden of not being able to spend the religious month and holiday with anyone at all.
It taught me especially, though it may sound cliché how to exercise patience and understand Eid ul-Fitr as not just a holiday where everyone goes to the mosque, prays, then eats for days; no, it allowed myself and countless others insight as to what was and is important to understand about the holiday that we never did before– how to cherish what we have, and how to spend Eid ul-Fitr how it is meant to be spent.
About the Writer:
Eshal Ahmed (she/her) is an editor here on Asian Advocates and a few other organizations. when eshal is not editing, reading, or even writing, she is one of many voices in the fight for menstrual and gender equality as co-president of a PERIOD and new/gen chapter! other pass times include cooking Pakistani food— sometimes even western, but she prefers her home country’s delicacies—, horseback riding, and studying what medicine she can as a high schooler.