POPULAR British radio and television host Nadia Ali writes about what Ramadan and Eid mean to her.
Ramadan is a month celebrated by many millions around the world, where we do not eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset. Growing up, fasting from a young age has always been a fun, exciting and meaningful time for me. I have many beautiful memories of Ramadan, with the most precious being the azaan (call to prayer). I am also closely connected to memories of everyone rushing around in the kitchen to prepare delicious food for iftari (opening of the fast) and uniting as an entire family around a table of delicious food, while we count down the minutes to breaking our fast. And my dad saying a little prayer before we start our feast.
I have lots of fond memories of delicious foods that would be prepared in the lead-up to Ramadan, where my mother and I would be up all night, talking and making samosas, kebabs, pastries and mishtis (sweet dishes) to freeze away. Obviously, Ramadan has been very different the last two years and it’s made me appreciate the little things I’ve had all my life a bit more. I miss the distinct taste and smell of my mums kichuri, channa and her amazing mango lassi – things I feel I took for granted. Beyond the food and beautiful memories, the month of fasting is deeply meaningful.
It’s a testing time of your patience, self-control and attitude. For me, personally, this sacred month is a time where I revisit all my goals and be thankful for all the things that I have in life. I always use this month to reflect and train myself to be a better person. I find that keeping my fasts, praying and helping the needy cleanses my soul and gives me so much peace.
Let’s put it this way – it’s a month of detoxing my body and soul. I come from a Muslim family and we have always celebrated Ramadan in a big way with our family and friends. We would have big iftaar gatherings, suhoor invitations, charity nights and going to the mosque to pray at the end of the night. With lockdown, it feels like it was such a long time ago, and I miss those days. I pray that we can go back to this soon when it’s safe again.
This Eid I’ll be celebrating with a few family members in the park. We plan to have our own little picnic (with social distancing and following the government rules). I plan to dress up and celebrate the last 30 days of fasting with my family and friends. I have a few Zoom parties scheduled in with my family in Bangladesh and America. I’ll also be cooking lots of delicious food for my husband and daughter to enjoy. I will pray for those who are suffering during this difficult time and for those who will be without their loved ones this Eid. I will also say a prayer of thanks for blessings bestowed on me by the almighty and hope we can all reunite next Eid. I hope you too have an amazing Eid and please remember to be safe.