Alhamdulillah, we are almost there! After almost a month of fasting we bid farewell to this blessed month with this festival of family, food, and lots of fun.
Muslims across the globe will wait eagerly tomorrow night to spot the crescent. Then some moon-fighting will follow with people eventually celebrating it together anyway. Kids will run around excited about the celebrations, some will burst crackers and dream about the Eidi (Gift money) they will get after the eid prayers. The ladies in the house will get their hands henna-ed, everyone has that one cousin who makes your hand look pretty for once. The cousins congregate in the hall, the mothers busy in preparations for the feast the next day. Snacks for breakfast and delicious biriyani for lunch. Some of the more daring cousins attempt to sneak into the kitchen and smuggle a few snacks out for the rest of us, but most of the times their efforts get foiled. The dads and uncles begin their calls to relatives abroad 'Did you spot the moon in Saudi/Dubai/ America?".
The ironing board witnesses its busiest day yet as one after the other the members of the household iron their Eid clothes (some grudgingly).
And then, eventually, the parents shush their children and order us to sleep. "We will wake you up at 5 tomorrow. No excuses. Now lights off!".
We don't actually sleep...
The next morning, as promised, we are woken up at 5. Some members (*cough* Shereef *cough*), pretend to wake up and then go sleep in another room. Till my dad storms in and literally peels him away from the bed. The girls wash off their henna and the little ones run around the house showing off the orange-red patterns to their parents.
The house slowly fills with the aroma of the frying Samosas, unnakayas and pazham poris (Plantain fries). Mothers of toddlers run behind them with the clothes in one hand and shoes in the other.There are long queues outside the bathrooms for the early morning shower,which some take as a sign to sleep 5 minutes more (*cough* Shereef *cough*).
My grandmother gets ready and calls me to ask if I need some talcum powder to put on my face (I am dark, so talcum powder will apparently make me fair-or 'full of colour'). She then calls all the grand kids to hand out the eidi. At this point none of us are really excited about grandma's eidi, because it's a whole process! First she has to bring all of us in, then the eldest grandchild (me) will be beckoned to bring out her bag, then unzip it and remove a handbag, within which is a purse, within which is an envelope. There are about thousand rupees in there, as she slowly but surely counts it a few times. From that she pulls out 250 Rupees which is to be shared by her 10 grand kids. Yes, my grandma hasn't realized that the value has changed, significantly, over the last few decades. (Once she gave my brother and me 100 bucks to share among ourselves, and she asked me to keep the extra rupee because I am the oldest and her favourite).
The logistics of the trip to the Eidgaah are decided. As we try different permutations and combinations of getting 20+ people into three cars. There is a final check to see if the kids are in (and whether they are actually our kid) and off we go to the Mosque/ Prayer ground. My favourite eid gah was 2 years ago, when we prayed at the beach. Something very special as we heard the Qur'an being recited along with calming sounds of the waves lapping the shore.
The Eid prayers done, we all head back (again after a headcount to ensure no cousin is left behind) to lunch spread awaiting us.
Since my mom is from one end of Kerala, and my dad from the other end and we are settled somewhere in the middle- our Eid spread is a mix of two different culinary styles. There is, of course, biriyani , chicken fry, Kozhi Kaddumbu. Sometimes we have a 'Sadhya', which is traditionally a vegetarian meal on a plantain leaf. But we make some adjustments and add some chicken and fish in there. How else will it work?
The meal is finished off with 'Paayasam', which is a creamy milk dessert. Some cousins throw a fit about biting into a raisin..again. Everyone retreats to the living room with cups of 'Sulaimani' (lemon tea), cousins on the carpet and soon grandpa dozes off. Eventually the rest of us follow suite and the house settles into this peaceful post-celebration buzz.
The sultry Kerala afternoon hangs heavy on us, and eventually it will rain.
Some Eids back home, I would be annoyed at the noise in the house, but now I kind of crave it. Okay, I crave it a lot. The whole of it. The crying toddlers, the henna nights with my cousins, the eidi, the aroma of biriyani filling the air, the Eidi count and the fights afterwards. Mostly, family. This Eid I will be away from my huge, loud, messy family of oddballs, but will be with them in spirit. Alhamdulillah, I have family away from home to celebrate Eid here! Wishing everyone a blessed Eid!