Festivals at a foreign land

Every festival has its own ambiance and atmosphere. Even with the religious festivals, culture adds new meanings and values to them, making them richer and more colorful.

Festivals either cultural or religious (with the implicit cultural touch) in the foreign land is no different than an ordinary day. Despite of the fact that you may find many of your country mates to cherish the joys together or you can celebrate them with you expat/local friends but you miss that true feeling and essence of the festival that you always enjoy in your home country.

This 15th October, Muslims around the globe celebrated a religious festival Eid ul Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice (English) or Kurban Bayram (Turkish)). It is an important religious festival to honor the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham). Eid, besides the religious rituals and message of sacrifice, harmony and peace, has rich cultural flavors of food, family and friends gatherings, varieties of new attires and outfits etc. It offers attractions for each gender of all age groups.

Since three years, I am exploring the meaning of celebrating festivals outside my home. This Eid was also a normal day except that I took a half day off from my office and we (me and my wife) visited our friend’s families for lunch. Because of an important meeting in afternoon (and this is highly unlikely to have in your own region) I had to go back to office in afternoon. Later after the meeting, I re-joined the gathering. We tried to mimic the day as we were home, this is ‘at most’ you can do. And though we were almost successful we still had a homesickness feeling. In fact the level of home sickness especially during those events, is proportional to your affinity and strong bound with your own culture with a less flexible nature. The stronger the bond, the more difficult it is to ‘enjoy’ the event without the surroundings or comfort zone you belong to and are used to. A Skype video call with family and friends back home can never substitute the real pleasure of being with them.

Over all it was a happy Eid and on a positive note, I always think that I also have the luxury to celebrate some of the other festivals coming from the culture I am living in. As an expat I’m looking forward for other festivals coming from both my own culture and from my current abode culture and hoping that I could enjoy them.

M. Mohsin Siraj

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