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My Big, Fat, British-Pakistani Eid

The announcement of Eid al Fitr is always a bittersweet moment – Muslims across the globe sadly acknowledge the month of mercy has come to an end whilst simultaneously getting ready to rejoice and celebrate.

As a festival that commemorates the conclusion of fasting from dawn till dusk (and isolation in the final nights for some), this particular Eid means two things in abundance: Family and food.

I have often been playfully teased for being related to everyone in my home city due to the size of my extended family, most of who live in close vicinity to one another. However, Eid is one of the few opportunities that enable us all – three generations – to come together and strengthen the ties of kinship. A truly auspicious day, jam-packed with our own traditions, the fun begins as soon as we wake!

My Big, Fat, British-Pakistani Eid - About Islam

The Eid Prayer

The calmest part of my morning is putting on nasheed to play in the background before everyone starts running around, frantically getting ready to make it to the Eid prayer on time. With over a thousand attendees, it’s prudent to be early!

The Eid prayer is a grand, communal event at the masjid with families of all backgrounds and cultures contributing to the loud, lively atmosphere. We stand side by side in worship of Allah, hushing the children for the sermon, before breaking out in exuberant greetings and hugs in the spirit of sisterhood and unity. Colorful goody bags are handed out to the excited kids and the Eid “breakfast” begins – my favorite part!

Stewards lay out an assortment of sweet and savory snacks including chocolates, biscuits and nuts, but if there is one thing that everyone looks forward to, it’s the cream cakes! The chocolate eclairs, cream-filled sugar doughnuts, apple turnovers and other creamy delights have become somewhat of an Eid essential and no Eid morning is complete for any of those in attendance without them.

After a strong cup of tea or coffee to wash it all down, it is time to fulfill another ritual – going to my aunt’s for a more traditional breakfast before heading to my mum’s to exchange gifts. A perk of living so close to family is being able to house-hop with ease and small groups of relatives will pop in and out to say salaam and grab whatever that particular household has made for treats. By the time we are finished munching some more and lounging, it is time to gear up for our huge family gathering.

My Big, Fat, British-Pakistani Eid - About Islam

The family feast

In early childhood, my uncles, aunts and cousins would assemble at my grandma’s home for the day where we would enjoy our festive meal in the spacious garden. However, as the years passed, our family just grew bigger and bigger (Allahumma barik) and no house was large enough to cater for us all. Thankfully, someone had the genius idea of using a newly built community hall so we could continue our tradition of bringing everyone together.

What makes my Eid so incredibly special, and perhaps unique, is that the men take responsibility for all the cooking and major clear up. It has been this way for decades and contributes to my staunch belief that women should not spend their Eid in the kitchen! Without the stress and worry of preparing a culinary blowout, the women have more time to relax and dress in their finest. We make our way to the hall and split from the men so we can truly let out hair down.  

The feast has evolved from sitting down on the floor waiting to be served to a more practical buffet system where we can help ourselves to some amazing dishes cooked by our family elders (may Allah grant them good health!) and rows of tables to sit at. I love the socialising and hanging out with one group of cousins to another. Our children also get to spend some quality time running around and partaking in their own antics.  

After tea and more cake, someone will eventually shout out for everyone to form a gigantic circle, as it is time to play some games! We have participated in all sorts of fun that has been arranged by the younger crowd, but none is more popular than a game of pass the parcel that just turns crazy. The aunts seem to love holding onto the multiple packages that are tossed around for a bit too long and chaos ensues as the parcels mysteriously disappear behind someone’s back only to be seen again when the nasheed stops playing! Every. Year.

No one wants the day to end. Mini gangs of cousins form and the party is taken to different homes where we chill out some more, maybe watch a movie, but definitely order dessert. Eid concludes when you can finally collapse with happy exhaustion; thinking of all the happy memories made, eyes heavy with sleep and a heart swelling with love for my tribe!

Eid Mubarak, everyone! May Allah grant you all an equally joyous time with all your family and friends, ameen!

This article is from our archive, originally published on an earlier date and highlighted here for its importance.

About Asma Ali
Asma Ali is an avid reader, writer, dreamer and former homeschooling mother who has just relocated back to the UK after a 12-year stint in Makkah. You can find her sharing all things literary on Instagram @asma_scribendi