Filled with simplicity and love, Eid celebrations in rural Pakistan is quite different from the urban areas.

There is no concept of Chaand Raat parties or shopping among villagers. Rather male members go to bed as early as possible because they have long list of engagements for Eid day. However, mostly rural women prepare traditional dish kher during the night to serve it on Eid morning. Seviyan (vermicelli) especially hand-made seviyan and sweet rice (zarda) are also prepared in early morning as both dishes take short time to cook as compared to kher.

The entire family awakes early morning to offer Fajr prayer. Male members then go to their farms to milk their buffalos and cows and prepare fodder for their animals. On reaching home, they rush to village chowk to buy meat from butcher shops.

Meanwhile, children take shower, wear new clothes and shoes and start demanding Eidi from their parents and grandparents. No doubt, their happiness and enthusiasm cannot be measured on the blessed day as most of them had fasted during the holy month. The child whose days of fasting are more than others would get maximum prize in shape of Eidi from their parents.

Entire family then gathers in kitchen and is served with sweet dishes. Now it is around 8 am. Male members along with their children go to Eidgah which is mostly a school ground or any other open place where Eid prayers are offered. It was a common culture till late 80s that entire village used to offer prayer at a single place but then the curse of sectarianism spread in rural areas. Division of Brelvi, Deobandi, Wahabi and Shia divided the prayer places. So they now gather at separate places. However, the Eid prayer is still offered in unity in many villages. It takes around two hours to the faithful in Eidgah as they have to hear Imam’s sermon before offering prayer in his leadership. But before leaving the ground they have to collect money for their Imam, local mosque and the seminary. A competition can be seen among the villagers when they give money to imam and mosque. The more you announce, the more you get respect and feel proud. People also give money to local barber, shoemakers, blacksmiths and other working community as a sign of respect and love to them.

The community fulfil villagers’ needs free of cost during the entire years so Eid day is their day to collect the reward. Since majority of village youth work in army, bakeries and factories. It is time of homecoming for them and come to their village on Eid with great hope and with their pockets full of money so they may share the joys of Eid with the poor.

It is end of the Eid’s prayer. People embrace each other, share good wills and congratulations. Many of them then go to graveyard to offer prayers for their loved ones who now rest in peace.

Women meanwhile get ready and offer prayer in local mosque or in shape of groups at some houses. The entire families again gather in their homes at around 11 am and say Eid Mubarik to each other. Women then start preparing lunch and male members get united in chowk which presents a beautiful look. It is like a city chowk with hot jalibi and other sweet items being prepared at different points. The ambience of the sight, sound and aroma of food items is very unique that you cannot experience in cities.

Villagers share laughs, buy sweets and make the plan for remaining time. As friends who work in cities gather after long time, they tell their different stories to each other. It is now lunch time. Friends invite each other to their homes to eat together.

Now comes afternoon. The most enthusiastic part of the Eid day. Villagers often hold horse and bull-cart races. Dog fights, hound dog race, kabbadi competitions are also take place. (Although dog fight is banned under law, villagers arrange it in compliance with local police). Riding on bicycles, bikes, tractors and horses along with drum beaters, they go to the mela sites. A fight among the villagers cannot be ruled out at competition sites. However, the elders rush to reconcile if situation becomes tense.

There are bets, there are prizes for winners. You won the horse or dog race or other competition from the next village, you come home with pride and it doubles the Eid joy. If you lose you will have wait for the next Eid. n