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  • Nur Laili from ELEVEN ft. Anfaal

#EidwithMe: How a British Pakistani Celebrates Eid (Part 2)

#EidwithMe: How a British Pakistani Celebrates Eid

Today, we’re travelling across the seas (virtually!) to hear from Anfaal, a final year English undergraduate from Queen Mary University of London.

Anfaal came to NTU on exchange in AY2019-20 before she returned to North London. Let’s hear how Anfaal celebrates Eid in Britain.

1st Syawal walk-through:

In the last 10 days of Ramadan, the person who’s hosting the Eid day would send a list of food to the family group chat and each family would pick a food to prepare for the day. It’s almost like a little game in our family because everyone wants to pick the best food to prepare. Once, my aunty sent the food list at Subuh and within a minute everybody replied. It’s so funny, like a Battle of the Food!

Usually on the night before Eid, all the girls in the family would get their mehendi done.

On Eid day, we’d have a traditional Eid breakfast in our own household before we go for the Eid namaz (prayer). Then we’d come back and get ready in our traditional clothes, put our jewellery on and put our make-up on. In our family, each Eid, one of our families would host the Eid and we rotate each time. All of our families will gather there and each bring our dishes as we celebrate. And, I don’t know why, but MashaAllah maybe because we have so many little kids in the family, so we’d order a bouncy castle in the garden!

(They have this no matter whose house it is! How fun!)

And we’d end the night at our uncles’ house with a feast part 2!

Must-Eid food?

For our traditional Eid breakfast, we eat a dessert. It’s called semiya and it’s sweet and delicious. If we don’t eat that for breakfast on Eid, then it’s not Eid!

(Fun fact: Semiya is a type of dish made from vermicelli!)

We also have traditional Pakistani food like samosas, kebabs, pakoras, different curries. And for the kids, we’d have chips and lasagna too!

What’s one main difference between Eid in Britain and in Singapore?

So while you guys (in Singapore) celebrate for a month, we only have one day. We don’t really get a public holiday and we’d have to take a day off. It’s a little hard because we don’t exactly know which day Eid falls on. Sometimes we have to take a risk, especially amongst the working adults, and they’d have to just take the leave first, even if they accidentally chose the wrong day. For us students, it’s much easier. Schools generally understand when we have to miss classes for Eid.

What’s your usual Eid-fit of the day?

We wear salwar kameez or kurtas! We usually order them from Pakistan too and get them delivered here!

What’s something interesting about how your family celebrates Eid?

One tradition among the women of my family is Secret Eidies! You know like Secret Santa? It’s something like that. It happens amongst the moms and aunties. Us kids, we’d get money for Eid. But the women of the family don’t really get anything. So this is their little thing. So a month before Eid, they’d choose a name and only the aunts and the family would know who they’d get. So on Eid day, there’d be a room full of all the gifts. And at the end of the day, we’d all gather in the room and it’d be a bit of a guessing game of who we think it’s from.

What did you miss most about Eid during the pandemic last year?

I think the one thing that I miss is having the family together. The sense of reunion. I think before Covid-19 we took it for granted. Just going to each others’ houses, going across the road to visit each other. And now it’s been ages since I last saw everyone. (It’s much stricter now in the UK because you could get fined for going into each others’ houses.)

So last year, the rules weren’t that strict yet, so we just met in the park and had a little picnic. Not everyone came, especially those who were more at risk. So only 6 people could gather and we kind of just sat in groups of 6. We dressed up in some normal clothes. In a way, it just didn’t feel like Eid because we didn’t get to dress up in our traditional clothes or anything.

Finally, what’s on your Eid radio/screen?

So during Ramadan we’d usually play a lot of Islamic channels or charity shows on. So on Eid, it’s kind of a norm to have it on Eid too!



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