x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

New outfit for Eid is sign of fresh beginnings

The whole community must be a part of Eid. The new clothes are a sort of symbol - a freshness and a new beginning, after Ramadan, inshallah, washes our sins away.

As Eid approaches every year, I look forward to two things: Eid clothes and my Eideya. It is common practice for Muslims to buy new clothes for Eid, as it is a sunnah, or tradition, of the Prophet Mohammed to wear something new during the holy feast. However, many people grow out of the habit and simply wear anything chic from their wardrobe instead of buying something new. In my case, it was the opposite. When I was young, my mother always bought me two or three outfits for Eid.

But I rarely waited until the end of Ramadan to show off the new outfits, as my mum would make me wear them to formal occasions during the holy month. I didn't mind. But when I turned 18 I realised I was missing out on the fun of the rush before Eid. It hit me while I was shopping on the last day of Ramadan with a friend from university. We moved slowly as a wave of people carried us from store to store, everyone eager to buy something for themselves or loved ones, the rush of buying something new obscured only by the rush of the festivities that were now only hours away.

We bumped into strangers, all seeking to land that last garment that is just right for our size. The scenes reminded me of those I had seen on TV of last-minute Christmas shoppers. That's when I decided that I wanted to repeat that scene every year and shop for new Eid clothes on the last two days of Ramadan. Shopping with a crowd gave me the ultimate Eid spirit, which is all about collectiveness and doing things in groups.

Another essential element for us, at least as unemployed children, was the Eideya - a stipend that our parents handed to us in fresh, crisp notes to spend as we pleased. There were no strings attached to the Eideya. We could save it all or spend it on ice cream and movies, sweets and fireworks. We spent it all. I'm looking forward to giving Eideya to my nephew, who at three months old is too young to waste it.

I don't want to give the impression that the whole process is materialistic. There is a joy in getting something new, but we also have a responsibility to involve others in the festivities. We should not leave the poor behind, but instead help them share by buying them new clothes and food, or by paying the zakat al fitr, an obligation on able Muslims, so that they are not left behind. The whole community must be a part of Eid. The new clothes are a sort of symbol - a freshness and a new beginning, after Ramadan, inshallah, washes our sins away.

The new clothes don't need to be flagrant or exquisite, but they help us celebrate. hdajani@thenational.ae