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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Eid - It's not just about Briyani and Firni!

I love festivals. I love India. Well, we all do. But, have you ever thought the reason why we all love festivals? Most of Indians would say, "It's a holiday!" 
I remember, last year, we had off on Eid-ul-Fitr. But this year we are working. This year, while travelling, from my home to office, I was just wondering that why do certain private sector refuse to recognize Eid as one of the major festival of India? In fact, there are various other festivals, which gets ignored by private sectors. 
Opinions vary. Some feel that by giving holiday on festivals like Eid, the production will suffer. Some feel, that being a Hindu state, why recognize Eid as a major festival? Some even keep it as "optional" holidays for Muslim employees. But, aren't we secular? I am confused with this new definition of secularism in our country.   If private sectors can include Christmas as official holiday, then why mark Eid as "optional" holiday?
As a journalist, I used to never get any of these public holidays. Times of India, like any other dailies had only five holidays in a year. Republic Day, Holi, Independence Day, Diwali and Gandhi Jayanti. So, personally speaking, working on public holidays have never been my issue. 
I think, holidays in Mumbai are the days to rest. People long for such midweek breaks, so that they can sum up more energy and work harder for survival. The journey of 'aam janta' in this city is traumatic. They beat the crowd, beat the traffic, beat the heat, beat the beggars, beat the political rallies, beat the recession, beat all sorts of odds, and finally reach office. Work hard, (not all days though) and then retire for the day. 
These public holidays are like bonus for people who work hard throughout the year, We must respect their emotions. 
Keeping aside the emotional side of the story, logically, we must give Eid-ul-Fitr as the status of compulsory holiday, because in our country we have sizable population of Muslims, and they are very much part of our culture and heritage. Mughals have ruled us for years, gave us culture, cuisine, music, art, gems and literature. Like the way, we have incorporated British culture and it's language, we must also take the positive aspects from the Mughals. I think, every religion has it's positive and negative aspect. You need to be rational enough to judge the best. 
Eid, reminds me of my early days of journalism. I started my career as a full time journalist with The Asian Age, Kolkata. Farah Choudhury, who used to head the features department, was probably the first Muslim personality, with whom I had proper interaction on religion. My knowledge about Muslims were restricted to Ghazaals, Briyani and Firni. 
But after interacting with Farah, my idea changed. In high school, my first Muslim friend was Parvez Imam. He officially introduced me to Holy Quran. I read the English version of the Holy Book. I remember, that he asked me to wash my feet and hand, (wazoo) and then sat on a carpet, placed the book on a wooden stand and then read the book. He wanted me to know that facts about Allah and the fictions which actually distorts the piousness of the book.
After High School, he decided to move back to Christchurch (NZ) and we remained as "pen friends" for years. Later on, I guess, we both became busy and lost the connect. I searched him on various social networking sites, tried to get his number through common friends. But all in vain. It's been almost ten years that we have lost touch. But, I am sure, the day we meet, we will be able to connect. His family was so humble, educated and caring. In our letters we used to share our thoughts about Hindu and Islam religion. The good and the bad, the fun and ugly. He would share his reservations, I would speak my mind.
Later, I came across various other friends, colleagues and actors who are Muslims. They have shown me the brighter side of this religion. It's true that some of them do practice violence, terrorism and anti-national activities, but then, you cannot categorize them. Like Muslim fanatics, we do have Hindu counterpart too. It's people, who makes the difference. Hatred is a state of mind, and certainly not the mind of any State.
Respect, is the core word for any religion. I have learnt that from Parvez, Farah and even my driver Amjad.

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