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June 16, 2018

Eid a special occasion to enjoy

Islamabad

June 16, 2018

So, what is Eid all about? An important part of celebrations is cleaning and decorating the house; laying the table with a traditional flavour while using special accoutrements. An important Eid custom that some families take pleasure in preparing is the beautifully set table, which takes pride of place in the seating area or the attractively arranged tea trolley which is rolled in, probably by a female member of the family, when guests visit to exchange greetings.

The best silver is polished to a sparkle; elegant, delicately embroidered tray cloths are placed on trolley trays and napkins replace the useful but not so stylish paper tissues; the cutlery is shone and delicate china brought out from the cupboards to show that only the best will do on this auspicious occasion, especially for very close friends or those who have to be impressed! These days with many people becoming weight conscious, the selection of what edible items to serve the guests is an important aspect but the trolley or table is not complete unless there is the traditional bowl of ‘saveiyan’ (vermicelli) to complement the other items. Both varieties of this sweet dish are a must to give a choice to the visitors - either cooked in milk or lightly fried in cooking oil, both garnished with chopped pistachio nut and air light silver leaf and equally delicious. Sweetmeats are another ‘must have,’ not only because it is traditional but because they look very tempting with their different shapes and delicate colours. Savoury treats include ‘dahi phulkis or bhalleys’ (a yogurt specialty); chick peas cooked with spices and of-course ‘samosas’.

These days, patties, potato crisps and sandwiches are also included but this is a modern trend to please guests and takes away somewhat from the traditional aspect of the occasion - just like the cakes which are replacing sweet boxes that are taken as gifts when families call on each other. Speaking of gifts, by custom, cash (Eidee) is given to children and is one of the exciting aspects of this celebration for them. While in some families a token amount is given to carry on the tradition, for others it depends on how close they are with the recipient or how much they can afford to give without being embarrassed. Unfortunately, in some instances the amount is determined by how wealthy the family is and wants to flaunt its ‘generosity’ but it only causes embarrassment.

A custom that is getting popular by the day is exchanging presents with friends or older family members, while children give their parents gifts they have been surreptitiously packing and hiding until D day. Is all this effort worth it? Yes! The involvement in preparation brings families closer together. It is a time for bonding with friends and family members we may not have seen or met throughout the year because of the hectic lifestyles we have these days. 

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