I was watching Little Mosque on the Prairie. I admit - I had given up on the show in the first season - only to fall in love with it in its second season. It's a perfect blend of comedy, satire, poignancy and awareness, all packaged in appropriate sized doses of humour. And the last episode was about Eid and Christmas.
Admit it, Christmas looks great. Decorating the Christmas tree, shopping for gifts, hiding presents, caroling, cookies, family gathering, decorating the house and lighting the streets - it all looks fun. And what do we have for Eid?
I used to remember Eids of my childhood in the Middle East and it was mostly fun. We would have similar activities - waking up early for the morning prayers, chanting "Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Walillahil Hamd!", going around the houses, eating gulab jamun and roshogolla and shaan papri and parathas, wearing the new clothes (I remember as a kid loving the new Eid clothes so much I slept with the shoes next to me), opening the new gifts (the gun that let out smoke was great!) and then on top - Eidi! I mean - free money AND gifts - Eid beats Christmas, or so I thought.
Well, nowadays Eid in the West sucks. I am going to come and say it plainly what Muslims want to shy away from - Eid here sucks. And the fault is mostly of the Muslims.
First of all, not everyone celebrates Eid on the same day. Admit it or not, and don't chalk it up to "diversity of Muslims" - Eid needs to be celebrated on the same day by Muslims in the city. The fault is entirely on (parts of) the community, who want to celebrate Eid in union with their relatives back home. On the other hand you have our some others (hello Babar) who still wants to sight the moon with the naked eye and says no to calculations. So... I just wish we would ALL PICK ONE SYSTEM and stick with it. Whatever it is.
It's no fun calling up someone to say "Eid Mubarak" and they go "Ya? Well good for you I am still fasting!". Immediately you lose half the community there.
Second, it seems Muslims go out of their way to have other stuff on Eid. When this wonderful country gives you a perfect excuse to defer exams, get personal days or other reasons to avoid work and studies, citing "religious reasons", there is NO VALID EXCUSE to have exams on Eid day, or not take off even 2 hours off work for Eid prayers, or have other commitments not Eid related on Eid day.
"Oh he's at school - he had exams today."
"Montu, why didn't you defer the exams? It's Eid!"
"Oh, I just wanted to get it over with. Besides, Eid sucks anyways."
Third, do you plan on how to make Eid fun?
If you are a kid growing up in the West, how will that kid appreciate Islam when supposedly the most fun thing associated with Islam - Eid - sucks? Anything that has to be fun has to be planned. And Eid has stuff associated with it that is, believe it or not, fun.
If you are a young girl, did you plan a henna party? Call up other girls and arrange to have everyone come over to someone's house and have a henna party. Get some music, get some dance beats, and get it on. No, music is not haraam and it's all girls anyways.
If you are a parent, did you buy new clothes for all your kids? It IS a Eid tradition and yes, it is almost fard. Save some money, and don't say you don't have as it should be part of the budget, but GET SOME NEW CLOTHES for Eid. If you can buy new clothes on Boxing Day you can buy them for Eid day.
If you are a guy what are you doing? If the weather permits you should plan a family or friends day thing. BBQ, games, outing, movies, whatever! Make it a tradition. We had a tradition of a huge cricket game on Eid when we lived in the Middle East (Petrol Pump East versus Electra Road). Ever since we came to Canada it has changed to going bowling with the neighbors in the evening. Traditions change but having fun should not.
Right now our community here always has a Eid dinner on the weekend after Eid - and it's full of cultural programs (Bengali dances, music, songs and of course FOOD), but bottom line - the practises, the cooking (women complain about it but they secretly love it - truthful about most things related to women) - etc. but bottom line, it is fun.
Eid should not just be going to prayers in the morning in a badly organized mosque and then coming home, calling some few relatives and then going to the mall by yourself. Eid should be fun and it's on you to make it so.