Ask anyone born in the 90’s or before that, about how was Eid celebrated in Kashmir when they were growing up the word firecracker will come up pretty quickly. Same question to a millennial will give you a different answer altogether. Over the years the way we see and celebrate Eid has evolved or changed drastically.
Most people who come from an earlier generation remember fondly buying toys like water guns and toy cars. Little girls would doll up with bangles and mehandi. Going outside playing with friends buying what they can to eat or play with the Eidi they received.
For some the memories go back to writing hand made cards for their friends. While for a lot of people it was the excitement before Eid of buying new clothes and showing them off to everyone on the special day. Visiting relatives nearby and afar to greet them, interacting with your cousins was something to looking forward to.
It was and still remains an occasion for food lovers in Kashmir to satiate their taste buds. Back in the day for some, the delicacies made on Eid was the biggest treat.
A peak outside your window and you could see children in colorful clothing running around, playing with each other and having the time of their young lives till their mothers start yelling at them to come back inside. You would see kids in parks or even in their locality taking rides on the swings and slide set up for the special day.
One of the biggest activity to look forward to on Eid was bursting of fire crackers right after the Eid prayers right till sunset.
Children would be lighting up crackers throughout the day and then in the evening some elder of their house would bring in more of these as a surprise. The sky would be lit with the fireworks and the loud bang echoing in the neighbourhood.
What has changed?
Although the change in how Eid is celebrated isn’t uniform yet many things which made Eid feel like a special occasion are now slowly fading away.
A generation that grew up with playing and bursting crackers throughout the day is now busy taking selfies or posting pics of the food they have on Eid. Less and less children play outside, rather they can be seen scrolling through their smartphones, chatting and calling their friends.
Your social media feed is filled with people uploading selfies in their ‘Eid outfits’. It seems Eid is more of a tradition online than off it.
Due to advent of smartphones first messaging and now video calls have become the normal way of greeting each other on Eid. Some people would rather post a greeting on their WhatsApp status for one and all.
There was a time when buying water guns and other toys was a big deal, now this generation spends Eid playing games on their phones. Again a significant change from the bygone years.
Of course for the past few years the way things have gone in our valley have contributed to the subdued Eid celebrations we see.
The excitement of shopping before Eid has given way to anxiety and worry to buy all the groceries in time. Shopping for Eid only means getting eatables. Only way you can identify that Eid is coming is by the hording of meat and bakery shops and the unbearable traffic jam that follows.
The trends of Eid have gradually changed with times in Kashmir. This isn’t to say that Eid celebrations have completely gone out trend. Still there are places you can visit and soak in the flavour of Eid.
In the corner of a street you will still see a few children gathered making noises, wearing those vibrant colors with a happiness in their eyes that fills the heart.