Tuesday May 28, 2024

Eid - money cannot buy happiness

By Mansoor Ahmad
April 21, 2023

LAHORE: Eid that comes after one month of fasting is a festive occasion in Pakistan. Its festivity has been marred by massive economic downfall in recent years; still the poor celebrate it with more fervor than the affluent segments of the society.

Each posh or well-to-do residential locality has on its sidelines slums where the poor live. The women folk of these slums are fodder for the affluent families as they perform household chores at low wages. Their men perform as gardeners at the lawns of these residences or are unskilled labourers or masons, painters, carpenters that seek work on a daily wage basis. Economic downturn has drastically reduced the number of days they get engaged.

Still, when it comes to Eid festivities, we see the festive activities at small grounds at the periphery of the slums where vendors offer different kinds of low cost foods. They display cheap toys, some come up with outdated swings, and few camels are there that offer rides to the children at low rate.

At some places, some bring trained monkeys or bears or parrots that perform for the children. Some indoor games or computer games are available for the children to enjoy their Eid. The place gives a look of a carnival of a lower standard.

Yes, the poor children nowadays do not afford new clothes, new shoes for Eid because their parents cannot afford this luxury. But, on the occasion of Eid, they come out with their best neat and clean clothes and shoes. Soon after the Eid prayers they flock to the mini carnival site and start enjoying the day by participating in different activities.

They show comradeship and take along their slum colleague that could not even afford to spend on the low cost activities at that place. Even the elders, particularly the women, participate in the activities with their children.

These are resourceless people. They do not have money to fulfil the aspirations of their children, but by arranging these activities, these folk give their little one some moments of joy.

The residents across the road come for Eid prayers with new and expensive dresses and shoes. After the prayers, they go back to their residences. The children of affluent families are forbidden to visit the dirty unhygienic carnival.

Their children see from their first floor balconies or windows the poor children merrymaking and enjoying the day. They have to contend with playing games or mobiles or wait for their parents to go to friends or relatives mostly in the evening. The men generally relax in their bedrooms after the Eid prayers. Some even skip these prayers that are held “too early” in the morning. Their Eid celebration lacks the spirit of the occasion.

Some families even avail the Eid holidays to go to some hill station to celebrate the occasion with only the immediate family with no acquaintance to share the actual joys. The contrasting ways the Eid is celebrated in Pakistan by the poor and the rich show you can buy worldly comfort with money, but cannot purchase happiness that poor get without money in celebrating the festive occasion.