ANANYA S GUHA
My first memories of Eid go down to my childhood in Shillong. A steady flow of devotees would pass by the main road and go to the mosque nearby. I would also think that a religious celebration could be so solemn, so steadfast. Then, groups of people would gather together, huddle and talk to each other warmly embracing, smile or laugh and wend their ways home.
In school I had Muslim mates but somehow I missed the occasion to go to their homes and greet them. Today I rue having missed such chances, because the solemnity of Eid has always struck me. I could understand how solemn the devout are, or how on a day people publicly turn away from themselver to the inner quiet of being, presided over by a power we call the Almighty. Slowly I learned that the prelude to the holy day would would be prefaced by consistent fasting to be concluded on a day of feast. It would be a happy moment, when one gets closer and closer to God.
The news of All India Radio would announce the timing and day of the sighting of the moon. I remember such days vividly. Ever since the moon has always been a metaphor for tuth, reality and religiosity for me.
As I started a career in my life my teacher Professor Hasan would call me over to his house and once again I could see people greeting each other as tea and refreshments were served. His colleagues from different communities and religious backgrounds would arrive. The spirit of secularism in India is a constant touch in my life.
As years passed by and as I comprehended how every Indian had the right to have his or her own choice to worship Eid has always remained as a resonant symbol of both India’s unity and diversity. As I said its solemnity, its prayerfulness and above all its warm touch of humanity has struck a singular chord in my mind. In a small town such as Shillong, where there are not as many as Muslims as elsewhere in the country, the spirit of Eid, its emphasis on Islamic egalitarianism has resounded always in my life:
the crescent moon
overhead you are
O Holy one.
We bow to thee
we bow to thee.
May the holy grace of Eid on this propitious day touch each and everyone in this country, this land of both diversity and a captivating unity.