Twice a year, Eid rolls in bringing extraordinary joy and happiness to Muslims across the globe. Relatives, neighbours and friends unite to feast, make merriment or simply catch up. Eid-ul-Azha is an auspicious time as it marks the end of the holy pilgrimage in Makkah, and is celebrated with the slaughter of sacrificial animals.
Thousands gather for the morning Eid prayers all across and it is a time to embrace one another. But most have to also rush back to start the Eid hustle and bustle of distributing the meat among relatives and the poor and also save some for themselves.
But it is at times like these when some people are reminded of what's missing the most in their lives— their loved ones, reminding them of Eids bygone and of better, simpler times. We have all lost loved ones and Eid is a time to fondly reminisce about the past, be grateful for today and look forward to the future.
With the growing diaspora of Bangladeshis abroad, a huge population of families are also separated for reasons of work and study. And it is not feasible to travel just on a whim.
Samira Ansari, who moved to London after marriage in 1999, used to often fly back to visit her parents during Eid. But ever since her daughter started school, she cannot make travel plans until the summer break as schools do not encourage absenteeism at other times.
"Growing up, I remember I used to look forward to Eid and all the festivities. Here, we even have office and school on most Eids. It is a hard life here and people have accepted that this is how it is going to be," she said.
Samira now celebrates Eid with friends and neighbours and they are such a close knit community that they mean just as much as family to her now.
Tamim Usaid lives and works in Dhaka city at a local conglomerate. He moved to the capital from Khulna when he was a teenager after he got acceptance into Dhaka University. He enjoys the city life and has had no problems going back home during the Eid breaks in his early years. But in the past couple of years, he and his wife are finding it extremely difficult to make the long commute home as transportation is difficult to find and rides are too congested for comfort. It takes almost a day of travel to reach home in quite a perilous journey. The young couple has opted out of travelling to their home towns during Eid and choose to visit at other times.
“Even though we visit home often, it still feels empty during Eid without family. But we have friends here and we arrange fun get-togethers and use the short break for some much needed rest and relaxation.”
A celebration that can typically last between one to three days, Eid signifies many things. For some, it may be the day to celebrate with friends and family, prepare delicious food, wear new clothes, enjoy fireworks displays and feast! For others, it is a day to forgive and forget, give thanks, self-reflect, donate to charity and remember loved ones who have passed away.