Monday, November 15, 2010

Hard to celebrate : When Eid’s joy turns to sorrow.

By: Salman Nizami.
Eid-ul-Azha, one of the two greatest religious festivals of the Muslims worldwide, is an occasion for joy as much as for inculcating the spirit of sacrifice. A religious celebration also has a social dimension which, ideally, ought to cheer and unite the people across all communities. Many in Kashmir feel that it is a time of sorrow.
Eid burdern :
This becomes the case because of the extra hard economic burdens faced by most of those who have been effected due to the Kashmir conflict and that constitutes most of the population. It is indeed a heart breaking scene to look at children with filthy clothes and no food to eat walking around begging during Eid in a time they should be playing in the park with other children with joy and delight. Kashmir has been in conflict since 1947. During the conflict, the authorities used curfews, search operations, arrest, torture, custodial killings, disappearance and killings of youths during the protest demonstrations.All these measures during conflict in Kashmir have inflicted a devastating impact upon the well being of the civilian population, particularly the youths. I remember talking once to a family that was begging the kashmiri's to provide them money for food and basic needs. “You see, we are only hoping that in this Eid, we will get enough food to eat and if our children could get a piece of meat during this Eid, then that would be a blessing.” the handicapped father told me, who lost his 18 years old son Bashir Ahmed of Pattan during the Kashmir conflict. There are times when many Kashmiri's actually hate to celebrate the Eid because they know that their children and families would demand more money for expenses such as new clothes, food, and other items that they feel necessary for the Eid. This of course means extra expenses that are not included in the money earned. I was able to roam a neighborhood in Baramulla and ask citizens there about what they feel about Eid and came out with interesting conclusions. All those whom I met agree that the Eid is an important religious occasion in which social relations, visits to relatives, and abandoning of envies should be the priority. They focused on the need for the world to take advantage of this time in helping the Kashmiris and vulnerable to create happiness in their lives. It is quite difficult for any human being specially the muslims to celebrate with lavish food and fancy luxuries while knowing that the kashmiris are sleeping hungry .Nasser, a taxi driver in Baramulla said that I had parked my taxi in the premises of a local park and we were unable to bring it out due to the continuous strike and curfew . Eid is an opportunity to spend happy time with families and relatives. But he adds, “Today, conditions are so desperate that eid’s days do not have their mystical feeling any more. Many cannot travel to their family because they could not provide enough money for travel expenses and provide family members with clothes, gifts, and other things. I personally prefer staying here rather than going empty handed”. “I live in Rafiabad having six brothers and sisters. My father has died during the Kashmir conflict , my mother and one of my sister’s works in other people’s houses, then we hardly meet to our bread n butter,” said 14 years old Hassan selling fruits on the bus stand. “We can not think to celebrate Eid, even if I will be able get something new, I will buy that for my younger brothers and sisters, not for myself,” he said further. Saleem Ahmed Mir , a guard at one of the local bank in Srinagar said that he also had to stay in the city and not travel to his family and relatives in the village. “I cannot leave because my work does not permit this. I have to stay and work here despite my utmost desire to go and see my family. But I have no option because this is the only way I can make a living. Besides, my salary is so low that I cannot afford travel and Eid expenses.” Saleem had to hold on tight to his low-paying job because of scarce job opportunities and very high unemployment rate. Hassan Ali, a carpenter, said the Kashmir conflict has effected our business and made him along with many others he knew. “Our large families and many expenses make it impossible for us to spend any rial on non-necessary items. Due to curfews and strikes people are not able to construct new homes even the building constructions have also been stopped, so the Job conditions are very tough and income coming from demanding occupations such as carpentry is barely enough to cover the very basic and essential needs, and Eid requires so many expenses. We have been trying so hard to gain as much income as possible during this month to cover those expenses, and I am sure we will not cover them all, because from last five months there is no work. Just as all surveyed persons agreed that eid should be a time for joy, they all agreed that economic conditions nowadays make this joy disappear from the lives of most of the poor, who suffer more every year. Yet again, it is fortunate that children, even those of the poor who have been effected most during the kashmir conflict can still enjoy Eid with their innocence as they play in the streets or public parks with very little money, and sometimes no money at all. They are the ones whom the Eid is dedicated for and all pray that they will continue to enjoy it regardless of the economic conditions lived by their families.
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