Saturday, October 13, 2007

Eid and The End of Ramadan

In Beirut during Ramadan, things had not been difficult as initially thought. For one, food is readily available.

Several schedule changes occurred during the fasting month. Working hours were adjusted to facilitate the fasting month. Lunch hour is cancelled and Work ends an hour earlier so that the muslims can arrive home earlier to prepare to break their fast. For the non-Muslims, we still get our lunch and knock off with the rest an hour ahead of usual.

In the evening, muslims hang out and enjoy other social activities after the breaking of fast and evening prayers so restaurants and stores stay open until midnight to cater for these customers.

Save for these and some obvious changes to the routine, Ramadan in Beirut did not look that festive to me. In Singapore, muslim households compete with each other to see who can put up a nicer lighting display and glowing green giant ketupats dazzle passing motorists along the streets of Geylang and Eunos.

When I arrived in Lebanon and waited for the beginning of Ramadan, I had expected that the festive atmosphere in Beirut will be even more over the top, given that the Lebanese have a flair for being dramatic. However, I was utterly disappointed. The several nights that I had hanged out along popular Hamra street had not put me in the least celebratory mood at all.

Today is Eid, the first day that marks the end of Ramadan. The streets are almost empty of people and the majority of the stores are closed, saved for popular establishments like coffee houses and shopping malls. It seems that most Beirutians prefer to spend time with their family and relatives during Eid, some even return to their native towns and cities to do that. This is not unlike the Chinese New Year visiting that we do.

The ones that truly enjoyed the coming of Eid holidays were my hotel neighbours (University undergrads?) who stayed up late last night partying, drinking, making a fool of themselves and keeping me up.

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