Life is a cycle, it goes in rounds. There is a sunrise after every dark night and there is always a disk after a bright day. Spring blooms after cold winters every year and leaves droop ever fall when the summer heat subsides. And so come every year our celebrations, the festivities and the merriments. Ester, Holi, Besakhi spread joy each spring, Christmas comes every snowy December, a trick or treat is there every Halloween, world’s largest pilgrimage is undertaken every Hajj, red fills the air whether it is the goat year or the monkey one… and so, one year later… every year… dawns the crescent of Ramadan! It was that night, the last night, in Lahore and a new born crescent was sighted. Witnesses recorded from forty five different cities and town across Pakistan were taken as the testimony to make the official announcement, the moon for Ramadan or Ramzan as we call it, had been sighted with naked human eye and on Tuesday, June the Seventh, Pakistan would observe the first fast. The state television ran the breaking news update and the air in Lahore just grew a little more exuberant, as it does every year. With the announcements of the sighting of the moon and some personal attempts of sighting it ourselves, with the prayers made for peace and prosperity of the nation and the human race itself, and greeting everyone traditionally, it was then the custom of sugary sweets that was followed, little too sweet for my taste though. I enjoyed the sweet syrupy traditional Chumchum that came from Gujranwala a day before, for my father had wished for it. The phone calls and text messages started flowing in, greetings and wishes for everyone from everyone. Lahore and its mannerism of celebrations are as unique as the character of this city’s air, richly coated in heritage. It was Chaand Mubarak to all, it is Ramzan Mubarak to all.
Ramadan comes with a rich essence that fills the air, the colour of life changes itself. The traditions kept so close to heart refresh every year and none weighs them with modernism or downgrades them as conventionalism as it is done for several other customs and rituals it is a magic spell, the moonrise for Ramadan.
Summers are to peak during June in Lahore and the fasts are going to be approximately sixteen hours long. The real test of patience, endurance and willpower it is going to be this year. Well, it has actually begun. It were two in the morning when the first alarm began ringing, giving a wakeup call. Beep, beep, beep. I, the very much night owl if not the wise owl, was wide awake and made my way upstairs to see if my father had woken up, giving my quick typing routine a rest. The moment I turned on the lights, he opened his eyes, he could have made a fine soldier given his punctuality, discipline and alertness. Satisfied much, I strode back down the stairway. Another loud noise, another tradition, I heard. There was the drum beating band marching through our street. They come every year, the drummers, and beat their drums waking everyone up for Seher. Dhum, dhum, dhum, they beat. You know, the beat, beat, beat in English. Some of these drummers sing along too or make an announcement. What I heard last night was an announcement not a Hymn. I had only set myself to save the work and shutdown my laptop when I heard footsteps, Mama was descending down the staircase. It was time for Seher, indeed. So, we had the traditional Sehri meal. There was gravy with chicken, a lot of yogurt, jiggery, and cream, parathas cooked in desi ghee and tea… and a lot of water to. Like everything else that happens every Sehri, I had to take my jog every five or ten minutes, up the staircase, until my brothers showed their face for the meal. They do that to me, every year and every Sehri. However, it was amusing to see my second brother, the one who is the middle one in us three sibling. He was so hopelessly sleepy, it was actually quite comical. Anyway, with the Azan call, the Dua was made and the first fast it is today. I am writing this about twelve and a half hours later to all this. Don’t know what the Iftar will be like but Lahore is a little less baking today.
A pleasant start? Perhaps! May we all stay blessed!