Friday, June 21, 2019

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ‘EID AL FITR’ CELEBRATION

PENGANTAR:Tulisan anak saya, Lily Hikam, tentang perayaan Iedul Fitri tahun ini. Memaknai perayaan secara lebih luas: bukan hanya sebagai perayaan pribadi dan kelompok, tetapi juga kegembiraan sekaligus keprihatinan kemanusiaan. Silakan menyimak dan mengomentari., Trims (MASH)
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By Lily Hikam*)

Two weeks ago, on 5 June 2019, we had the good fortune to welcome Eid Al Fitr (Eid) once again into our midst. For us Muslims it’s a time for celebration where we mark the end of a month long of fasting by traditionally feasting to our heart’s contentment. Or at least that was the way I would have celebrated Eid had I been at home with my family.

Alas this year, as it was the case last year actually, I had to celebrate Eid far from home, all by my lonesome in Irvine, California, since Eid fell in the middle of the school year and I wasn’t able to take time off from school/work. What’s more I wasn’t able to join everyone else for Eid 
 prayers that day because it was that “time of the month” for me.

While my celebration was a bit lackluster this year, that didn’t mean that everyone else’s was. My family back in Indonesia, for example, had a good time celebrating with our neighbors and the rest of our extended families around Jakarta. The obligatory Eid meals were cooked: opor, lontong sayur, the infamous “Dulkadir” curry, one of my dad’s hometown cuisines (if you’ve never had one, you’re definitely missing out on life), and, of course, the special Eid cookies and snacks were also present.

I was happy that I get to spend some time on video call with my parents, performing the tradition of asking for forgiveness. In that short period of time when we were on the video call, it felt a lot like I was there with them and I wasn’t missing too much. It was good to see their happy faces and to be constantly reminded of my purpose being so far away from home: to make them proud. Seeing them and talking to them was the highlight of my long distance Eid celebration back then, though later on my roommate and I went to eat at a ramen place. Well I guess one could say that I had two highlights during my Eid celebration.

Enough of my personal reminiscence of the Eid...

But in retrospect, in the context of charged political climate these days, it was good to see and went through a religious celebration like Eid where nothing amiss happened. In some countries where violence against minority groups like Muslims, have been on the rise for the last couple of years, the US is not excluded, it’s a good feeling to know that the celebration of one of our holy days went by without any tragedies. It’s good to know that the communities where we reside in have our backs and that they wouldn’t have tolerated any calls for violence, bigotry or intolerance.

Of course in this time of celebration we couldn’t and shouldn’t forget that just a couple of months ago our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka weren’t so fortunate with their Easter celebrations, our siblings whose religious celebration was tarnished and destroyed by hateful people; we couldn’t forget there are still those of us who mourn the loss of their loved ones in New Zealand, those who would never celebrate Eid with their father, son, daughter, mother, uncle, or nephew ever again; and there remains those who couldn’t freely celebrate their Day of Victory because they’re living in a war zone, deprived of the most basic of human rights for respite from the violence they face day in and day out.

These events impressed upon us how fortunate we are to still be able to celebrate Eid the way we always have been able to. How fortunate we, the Indonesian Moslems, are that we are able to keep our tradition alive, to celebrate our Day of Victory with joys and happiness, and to still be able to go “mudik”, visiting our beloved relatives back home. On its face Eid Al-Fitri may be a day where we celebrate the end of Ramadan fasting, but shouldn’t also celebrate it as a day to give thanks for all the blessings we have and will receive? Think again!

Happy Eid and may God bless all of us.

Irvine, California, 20 June, 2019

*) PhD candidate
Cardiogenomics Clinical and Research Program
Department of Biological Chemistry
School of Medicine, the University of California,
Irvine, California, USA.
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