Sunday, October 14, 2007

Eid & Moon Sighting 07-10-12

The joy of Eid and the Problems of Moon Sighting

Mirza A. Beg
Friday, October 12, 2007


Indian Muslims, info news. October 13, 2007 http://www.indianmuslims.info/news/2007/oct/13/joy_eid_and_problems_moon_sighting.html

My News.In, Tuesday, October 17, 2007
http://www.mynews.in/fullstory.aspx?storyid=926

Eid ka Chand (The crescent moon of Eid)) evokes precious childhood memories. We used to gather at our Grandfather's sprawling patriarchal house on Eid. The uncertainty of moon sighting on the 29 th day of the lunar month gave a special urgency to the evening. The excitement of gazing into the sky not dark enough to make the moon sighting easy was exhilarating. As soon as it was sighted the faces became radiant with joy. Children got new outfits and some cash from all the elders in the extended large family, to spend the following Eid morning. We sweet-talked them to give more.

The next morning, Eid prayers were held at a large open courtyard like Mosque called Eidgah. By the time I was 10 years old, I was in charge of the younger siblings and cousins. After the Eid prayers, under the watchful eyes of elders, we gave alms to the supplicants lined out side the Eidgah gates. Then came the fun part, I supervised the buying of toys from the street vendors lined outside Eidgah. The girls usually bought dolls the boys invariably gravitated towards the horns and drums. The house was a pandemonium for couple of hours, a bunch of excited children running around with un-orchestral noises, while a stream of guests arrived to meet and greet, and partake of special Eid sweet dishes. The saving grace for the adults was that most of the cheap noisemakers were broken in couple of hours. That was the uncontroversial side, at least in those days.

In busy modern life when people travel long distances to be home for Eid, the uncertainty of the traditional moon sighting at times causes chaos. I remember one year my father missed Eid altogether. At Fatehpur, the town where he was posted, it was declared that the Eid will be the next day, so he took the night train to Jaunpur to join us at our grandfathers house, where the Eid was celebrated the previous day.

As a young enthusiastic scientist, when I knew a lot more than I know now, or so I thought, I was a vociferous advocate of well established astronomically calculated date for the Lunar months, especially the sighting of the new moon of Eid. Arguing how easy and scientific it was, and all the advantages that accrue from it. Of course it can be done with great demonstrated accuracy, but a vast majority of traditionalists does not agree. They insist of doing it, the way it has always been done. Though in the Islamic countries they do send airplanes above the clouds to check on the moon, a modern facility, not available in the real old days.

It took a few gray hairs to realize that social traditions have a dynamics of their own. Reasoned, they almost never are! Reason only gets in the way of feelings. I have accepted it as a quaint tradition. I did not throw in the towel in the sense of the phrase that "if you can't lick em join em". I realized that people feel very strongly about traditions. So unless the traditions are doing a great harm, let them be, and chalk it to the freedom of belief and choice. That is what brings color to the cultures; things are because they are. Let people have their say and celebrate Eid on whatever day and be grown up enough to tolerate others feelings. Or perhaps have it both days, the more the merrier.

We had Eid on Friday. Prayers in the morning, and a family Eid feast this evening. I am inviting different sets of friends for the next two days. In the US we tend to go for convenience and celebrate many things on the weekends. To achieve long weekends, congress had passed a law of Monday holidays where many of the holidays related to birthdays such as Presidents day, Martin Luther King's birthday and some others are celebrated on Mondays closest to the real day, in order to have a three-day weekend. I some times jest that this year the Good Friday is on Monday. Warm regards and Eid Mubarak (greetings) to all.

Mirza A. Beg can be contacted at mab64@yahoo.com, or mirsasmusings.blogspot.com

2 comments:

Evelyn said...

EĪd mubārak, Mirza! I noticed that the moon was beautiful last night and mentioned it to my husband, saying "Look at the Turkish moon" which is what we call a crescent moon ever since we visited Turkey in 1997.

Your friend,
Evelyn from Anniston

Mirza'sMusings said...

EĪd mubārak, Mirza! I noticed that the moon was beautiful last night and mentioned it to my husband, saying "Look at the Turkish moon" which is what we call a crescent moon ever since we visited Turkey in 1997.

Your friend,
Evelyn from Anniston