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A literary rendition

The poems with more pointed references to eid give a good account of the custom and rituals that constituted the lives of people

A literary rendition

Eid has been mentioned in Urdu literature more in the manner of a metaphor. The occasion means merriment, people coming together and greeting each other and in this sense it has been used for either the day facilitating the meeting of people, or if it fails to do so, it becomes a metaphor for lost opportunities.

Nazir Akbarabadi’s idiom was less stylized than most Urdu poets so there is greater scope for a descriptive understanding of the society that he was living in. The poems with more pointed references to eid give a good account of the custom and rituals that constituted the lives of people in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century:

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And it had to be more joyous for it came after a month of abstinence and fasting:

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And then it brings possibilities for everyone:

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Perhaps the best metaphor has been employed by Ghalib when he takes eid for either a joyous occasion or a moment that is absolutely glorious in its fulfillment, or rather the pure potential of its fulfillment:

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And many other poets have used it as a stock image:

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And if it does not happen, then it is a sad day because the contrary was supposed to happen. The eid is auspicious but it seems that the
day has passed without meeting its full potential:

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Then it appears that the occasion, too, has brought with it expectation which if it does not meet with its full intention still yield benefits, because it is a ritual, and the ritual does have its advantages, though not of the same intensity as of an authentic experience:

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But then the poet is mortified by the lack of consistency or the discrepancy between what his own life has been and what his expectations or the drive for the ideal has been:

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The surkh rung of eid has got a paradoxical relationship with the spilling of blood, and one can be mistaken for the other:

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And this paradox of possibilities is explored still further:

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But then what does merriment consist of?

And then there has been a tinge of humour:

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Read also: Musings of an eid skeptic

There cannot be enough intensity of experience without the overbearing presence of the raqeeb:

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Sarwat Ali

The author is a culture critic based in Lahore

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