Among a number of elements, what makes any celebration more special are the extraordinary people in our lives whose presence multiplies the joy of festivities and Eid is no exception.
For Muslims all over the world, Eid is one of the biggest occasions that bring together near and dear ones every year.
From Morocco to Malaysia, to Bangladesh, Eid is a time to celebrate with loved ones, exchange gifts, wear new clothing and eat delicious food. It is a day when families and friends unite and come together, setting aside their usual busy schedule and workload.
Be it the end of Ramadan leading up to Eid-ul-Fitr or the day before Eid-ul-Azha (more commonly known as Qurbani Eid), pre-Eid preparations are incomplete without the presence of friends and family. After all, the occasion of Eid has always been about celebrating, bonding and catching up.
However, reality tends to constrain our ideal scenario of happiness, which results in separating some of us from our loved ones even on this special day due to various reasons.
While reminiscing bygone days, memories related to Eid reminds me of the heartwarming moments I spent with my cousins.
Being one of the youngest in the family, I would be subjected to a lot of leg-pulling by my older cousins because of my eccentric theatrics, along with an immense amount of pampering from my aunts who were always ready to feed me the tastiest of Eid delights.
A customary Eid practice involved all of us cousins having a get-together at our grandparents' home to watch a newly released movie, which was all the more enjoyable because of the relentless banters, unstoppable barrage of jokes being cracked and of course, the great food accompanying every activity.
More than a decade has passed since then and today, all of us are scattered across the world, with oceans and divergent time zones keeping us apart.
Eid reunions these days involve all of us sitting in front of our video cameras, smiling ear to ear in our best attires and having chaotic conversations interrupted by constant shenanigans of little monsters in the form of nephews and nieces.
For an hour or two, we are inevitably transported back in time to the joyous days of fun and frolic we left behind.
For Muslims around the world, experiences of Eid away from home can vary greatly.
Like every year, this year, too, we will be spending Eid day without many of our near and dear ones around. Thanks to additional travel restrictions imposed by Covid-19, the ones who were eagerly awaiting to be reunited with their families cannot fly home.
So if you have family members living away from home, here are some ways tocan bring a smile to their faces.
One cure for all
Apart from family reunions, a common element of both the Eids comprises extravagant feasts featuring elaborate menus.
As Bengalis, we love Eid and what better occasion can there be to bond over our never-ending love for food?
Remember the favorite "chicken roast" your aunt - who now lives in some distant land - used to make back in the days so you could devour it to your heart's content?
Take some time off to have a long phone or video call with her. Note down the recipe and make sure you focus on the intricate details of how the dish is prepared from scratch.
Cook it on the day before Eid and share photos of your effort to recreate the magic with her. It will not taste the same, of course, but will definitely leave your tummy and heart a little happier and satisfied.
Everybody loves gifts and Eid is the perfect occasion to spread some love.
Since you would want the gift to reach your loved ones right before Eid, make sure you plan it one to two months earlier, keeping in mind the time taken to ship them.
For the fashionista cousin with eternal love for new clothes, or the bookworm uncle who loves collecting original copies of his favorite novels, a thoughtful gift sent by a loved one thousands of miles away can indeed bring much joy.
A walk down memory lane
To pull this off, make sure you include as many young people as possible. Collect old and new photos of every member of the extended family and use them to make a video clip, which is bound to tug at the heartstrings of everyone and even bring out a drop of tear or two.
The power of music
This Eid, get out of your comfort zones to spice up the usual virtual Eid reunion. Ignite the competitive spirits of the elderly and young for a game of virtual Antakshari for an unforgettable Eid experience.
For the love of writing
Remember the 90's when life was imaginable without the internet, when our aunts and uncles would eagerly wait for months for the letters from their family members living abroad?
Pick up a pen and paper and help them relive the olden days by sending handwritten letters instead of a virtual Eid message this year - for there is nothing better than heartfelt words to warm up the hearts of our loved ones.
If you are the artsy, creative soul looking for the opportunity to unleash your imagination, you can even make customized Eid cards and compose small poems to be sent along with your artwork.
Again, make sure the letters are sent out well ahead of Eid to make sure they reach the people they are addressed to on time.
With Eid just around the corner again this year, let us all take the opportunity to strengthen our bonds with the people who matter the most.
If not anything else, this pandemic has made us realize the value of human companionship, compassion and togetherness.
It is a reminder for all of us that it takes only a microscopic organism to separate us from our loved ones forever. So let this Eid be an ode to unbreakable bonds and to the blessings of life.