Sunday, June 16, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

OP-ED: An ode to the fish hook moon

What makes the month of Ramadan such a special time

Update : 25 Apr 2021, 01:21 AM

Remember that episode with Ted and Victoria in the first season of HIMYM? That episode set with the backdrop of a wedding. That episode where they lock their eyes and intertwine their bodies, all the while stopping short of a kiss? “Drumrolls” as Victoria put it, will always be more important than the crescendo that follows. 

And even though they go at it like crazy in later episodes, and there is even a bittersweet moment during the final season, I think “drumrolls” is the episode that stuck with us the most. And why wouldn’t it? There is a magic in anticipation, a feeling of intoxication as longing builds up. And sometimes, that fantasy can be so much more energizing than reality

There is a visible hustle and bustle going throughout the household during the afternoons of Ramadan. Whether you are helping your mom, fighting your way through droves of people, or gently sitting at the dinner table, the afternoons of Ramadan are some of the most eventful afternoons one can have. Then comes the iftar, the feast that renders you immobile for at least one to two hours. 

After that, you either take a trip to the tong or a pilgrimage to the mosque. Either way, whether it be through prayer or smoke, you are finding your way towards your own spirituality, your own way of conversing with the universe. And since this is the only month that you can do this, I don’t think this is something that most of us pass up on. 

Still, the question remains. Why is this month any different from other months? 

People can make evening snacks any time they want. Mosques are open 24/7. And tongs have become an indispensable part of our culture. Ramadan isn’t even consistent with when it occurs, which already takes away some of the set-in stone attributes like December has. Then why is Ramadan so important to us? Why is Ramadan so heavily embedded within our collective consciousness? 

Well, let’s take a look again at the different things that happen during Ramadan. It is scripturally mandated that people work less during this holy month due to the fatigue that takes a hold of one’s body. While this is something that is mainly enforced in schools and government offices, due to the natural fatigue that accumulates in almost all of us, there is a general sense of lethargy that prevails throughout the institutions. 

And what do people do when things are slow at work? They go home and spend time with their family. They catch up with friends, they take their family out to dinner, and they engage in all sorts of things that a human should do, not just make money for a faceless entity. In a way, Ramadan liberates us from our dreary routine, and instead of showing what life has become under late-stage capitalism, it shows us what life can -- and should -- be. And in these dire times, that has a special effect on us as well. 

Another fixture of Ramadan would be the running from shop to shop in trying to find out the appropriate dress for one to wear. While this practice can be quite wasteful, there’s no denying that this is act that gives joy to thousands upon thousands of people around the world. Also, there is another reason I touched upon this, which I will get to in a second. 

There’s also the meeting with old friends during Ramadan. While this wasn’t a big selling point back in the day, this became particularly important during college. 

And as days go by, and as the connections with people you thought the world of start to dissolve into nothingness, those rare interactions during Ramadan all the more important. If memories are the fuel that keep us alive, then what’s the harm in rejuvenating the source once in a while?

So then, let’s recap. Family evenings. Spending time with what’s important and sticking it to the Man. Reunions that can carry someone for lifetimes. What am I getting at here? What am I trying to say? 

Let’s go back to the opening statement -- let’s talk about drumrolls. While a drumroll seems commonplace, the anticipation it builds for the crescendo is one of the most important things of the whole piece. It is the same thing with Ramadan, and Eid in particular. Eid is an amazing event, that goes without saying. But Eid is fleeting, and more often than not, aside from some kacchi and firni here and there and a hangout at a friend’s house, it isn’t very different from your ordinary days. 

This is the reason why Ramadan is so important, and this is why I would argue that Ramadan is more important than Eid. Aside from the religious connotations, Ramadan serves as the drumroll for Eid, the anticipation for this fleeting moment that would be over in a jiffy. Taken individually, the acts committed during Ramadan don’t mean much, true. But considered as a unit, a pattern starts to emerge. 

They are all part of the same game, and they are all being done with the same purpose. Remember those parties where you spent weeks planning the bits and pieces only for the planning phase to become more fun as the party was over in a couple of hours anyway? Ramadan is like that for Eid. And no matter how fun Eid is, the festive atmosphere that grabs a hold of all of us dissipates as soon as it is noon on an Eid. 

But for a month before that, we can hold on to that festive spirit. A month when we don’t have to engage in acts that suck the spirit out of us. A month when we can get back to what made our lives so great back in the day -- or at least grab an essence of it. A month where even the air feels different, and a trip to the tong in the evening can stand toe to toe with some of the most exclusive dishes in the world. 

In short, it is a month-long celebration or the anticipation of a celebration -- executed in such a way that only us Bangladeshis can. And that is why the whole of Ramadan is nothing short of an ode to a fish hook moon, and an ode to the holy spirit that resides within us all. 

Ramadan Kareem everyone. May you find the strength to go on during these trying times.

Nafis Shahriar is a student of business and a freelance writer.

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