Ramadan is soon coming to a close, while Syawal waits behind the corner.
It’s peeking at us, with its wide cheeky grin, beckoning us to the month-long festivities. It hints at days of raucous catch ups with long lost relatives. Tantalizing us with phantasm scents of delicacies, making all of our mouths water just a little bit more. Syawal is just around the corner, and with it, Eid al-Fitr.
Eid is coming, and it’s exciting.
But, wait; hold on. Other than the hints of celebration, there’s something you should know. With all the fun-filled promises of the future, there’s a certain amount of preparation for it. And when I say ‘certain amount’, I mean there’s going to be a lot of preparations.
Well, at least for my family it is. The last week of Ramadan is often the busiest, where we cram in just about every possible thing we can in between our religious responsibilities in the seven days, all in preparation for Syawal.
This manic week probably stems from the fact that we have a typical tradition of visiting all of our relatives during the month. (Which sometimes include relatives that you can’t really name or even have had a proper conversation with.) After which, they would then return the favour and visit our humble abode. This is where you’ll see the reason for the glint of iron resolve and cracking of the whips from parents over Eid preparations.
It’s all about presentation and impressions.
It’s different for a lot of different people. In my case, there are about 3 general C’s in a typical Eid preparation: Cakes, Couches and Carpets.
First of all, are the Cakes.
In preparation to the visitors, many of us will prepare, or at least purchase, some snacks. In most cases, this would be the cake. Nowadays, most families can opt to purchase these cakes from bakeries or stores. It’s a lot less of a hassle and easier. My family, on the other hand, prefer going the traditional route. We like to at least make some of our own Eid cakes.
After tarawih, the nights will be filled with slightly burned finger tips from layering cakes for the month-long Eid. The kitchen will be a mess, with batter and clamors for different types of cakes to be quickly tasted and made, ready to be served. These nights are long, tiresome and at times fever inducing, as we slave over stove and ovens, manning at times more than 2 ovens at a time.
These nights are then followed by mornings, where we wake up to another C for the preparation.
Now, the Couches.
For this week, the term ‘couch potato’ is no longer applicable; there is little to no time spent off your feet. Instead, time will be spent lifting all the couches, moving them, and destroying dust bunnies that have emerged over a year of hibernation. In my experience, my parents like to kill two birds with a stone, where this time is not just spent on cleaning, but also the lovely creative experience of re-arranging the space.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get to just move the furniture once or twice and your parents will be happy. However, that usually isn’t the case. Hours have been spent moving, shifting the big couches from one end of the room to the other, just to have it end up being placed a few inches away from the original spot.
Next, would be the Carpets.
Usually the final stage of the prep, this would mean that the nights and days filled with baking cakes, and lifting couches are over. It’s when Syawal is so close you can see its teeth and the promise of tomorrow smells so sweet.
During this part of the preparation, the last piece of furniture will be cleaned and placed, to complete the household. This includes not just beating and airing out the rugs and carpets, but also scrubbing any stain or mess that may have fallen on them. (Tip: if you’re like me, and have to endure this, please try to do this in the early hours of morning, else you’ll have to drag the carpet out to dry at noon, and the sun is at its highest by then.)
After having done this, is the wonderful reprieve from the preparations. And with it is the surreal sense of achievement and pride, because the house is our home, and a clean home is so much sweeter. But that’s just my take on my annual preparation for Eid; what about yours?