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What Do Pakistan’s Minorities Even Do During Eid?

What Do Pakistan’s Minorities Even Do During Eid?

Hussain Saeed

Finally, Ramzan is over and we can all go back to eating all the time.

The best part about Ramzan being over is Eid. It’s literally 3 days of visiting loved ones and eating a ton of food. For some, it’s about spending time with family. For others, it’s about giving back to the less fortunate. No matter how you choose to spend Eid, it’s a country wide celebration – which is spanning 4 days this year!

Pakistan Muslims exchange Eid greetingd after offering Eid al-Fitr prayers at the at the Jamia Mosque in Rawalpindi on June 16, 2018.
Muslims around the world are celebrating the Eid festival, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. / AFP PHOTO / AAMIR QURESHI

But what are minorities doing this eid? How do they celebrate eid?

We at team Propergaanda were curious, so we reached out to people we know and here’s everything we learnt.

It’s a holiday for some, but not for all

Pakistani Muslims exchange Eid greetings to one another after offering Eid al-Fitr prayers at an Eidgah ground in Karachi on June 16, 2018.
Muslims around the world are celebrating the Eid festival, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. / AFP PHOTO / ASIF HASSAN

Many minorities enjoy a day off on Eid. Christians, Sikhs and Hindus usually just enjoy some downtime. And while they don’t engage in Eid rituals, when we talked to our sources the said it’s just some good downtown that families get to enjoy. That could also mean just going out, eating at restaurants, watching movies and so on. A lot of minorities just do what regular people do when they have a day off from work or school. However, most of these people said that they weren’t as engrossed into their respective communities.

But that doesn’t mean all minorities get the day off. Many minorities work during eid break. This can range from jobs like doctors to house cleaners. They choose/are forced to work because these aren’t their religious holidays. Many of you will notice that if one of your help is a Christian, they’ll be the one to stay during the holidays.

Many take part in eid celebrations!

People board on a train to travel back home to be with their families ahead of Eid, at a railway station in Lahore, Pakistan. Image Credit: AFP

Many minority communities take part in eid celebrations throughout the country. Some will distribute food to the needy, and take part in our cultural and religious activities. And it makes sense. Eid is a pretty happy time for most. People are usually in a better mood. It’s infectious being part of a country wide festival.

Many of these minorities do this as a way to show unity and tolerance between faiths. It’s just sad that when it comes to their religious holidays, you will not find muslims indulging in such interfaith activities. And in a situation where these minorities face massive amount of persecution within society, this comes off more as servitude than charity.

Many are excluded from celebrations

A common trend within everyone’s eid is spending time with family. Most of us will spend most of the day either visiting family, or being visited by family. But what about the people whose families reject them? One such sect in society is the transgender community. While Pakistan is improving when it comes to trans rights and awareness, many still face discrimination which usually starts within the household.

Member of the Pakistani transgender community parade during a rally to demand for the implementation of transgenders rights bill in Lahore on December 29, 2018. (Photo by ARIF ALI / AFP) (Photo credit should read ARIF ALI/AFP/Getty Images)

Many parents do not accept their children for who they are and as a result, throw them out. So the transgender community does what it has always done-rely on eachother. Many transgender women celebrate eid with their chosen family i.e. their gurus. They put on mendhi, wear nice clothes, the same things as everyone else. Our sources shared that some go out and indulge within the festivities, but they do so as a group. Because there’s safety in numbers, and in a society which still has a long way to go when it comes to acceptance, safety is still a concern. Just yesterday, a transgender women was attacked in Mardan on the first day of eid.

Many live in fear during these festive days

Eid is a celebration, but it isn’t for everyone. If you hadn’t noticed, I haven’t mentioned one group while talking about all these minority celebrations-Ahmedis. The reason for this is simple- Ahmedis are forced to celebrate Eid in secret.

While other sects within our society are allowed to join in on the festivities, Ahmedis have no choice put to hide their celebration, or risk their life.

Pakistani civil rights activists protest the killings of Ahmadis outside the attacked community mosque in Lahore on May 30, 2010. Over 80 people died as squads of militants burst into prayer halls May 27 firing guns, throwing grenades and taking hostages in the deadliest attack on the city of eight million, which has been increasingly hit by Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked violence. AFP PHOTO/Arif ALI / AFP PHOTO / Arif Ali

As most of you know, the Ahmedi community faces a massive amount of persecution from their host country. Religious holidays like Eid are no different. In Pakistan, Ahmedis doing anything that could be associated with Islamic rituals would get them charged with blasphemy. Indulging in Eid activities would be no different.

Some are blocked from entering their places of worship. Attacks have even been carried out on their places of worship. Our sources point to one incident, when a large gathering of people set out to celebrate Eid Milad-un-Nabi converged towards an Ahmedi place of worship in Chakwal and tried to demolish the place. The crowd, which may have been as big as 1000 people, ransacked the place and set it on fire. This was all during a religious holiday.

So within these few days, be grateful for the cards you’ve been dealt. Appreciate the privilege you have living in the majority. And for those who suffer in silence, we are here for you.