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Eid Mubarak! As The Festivities Begin, It Is Important That ‘Eidi’ And ‘Fitra’ Go Hand In Hand

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By Zehra Kazmi:

Every summer vacation, my mother and aunts would drag me, and my equally unwilling cousins to Amir Nishan Market in Aligarh when they had to do some “mummy shopping’’, which basically meant buying clothes and jewelry-none of which interested us. However, the Chaand raat bazaar on the eve of Eid, I have a very vivid memory of. Shops selling ittar, bangles, clothes, and people doing last minute shopping, women getting their hands painted with henna, restaurants and hawkers serving kebabs, sewai, chaat and biryaani and a flurry of announcements and music blaring through loudspeakers- a scene that is replicated throughout the length and breadth of India. In our home in Ranchi, Amma’s standard Eid menu includes dahi bara, kebab, sewai, biryani or yakhni pulao, chholey, pakorey and chicken tikka, with small variations and additions. My father and brother would go to the local mosque to offer their Eid prayers, clad in starchy white kurta pajamas and I’d witness the frantic annual search for those long forgotten skullcaps. My favourite memory of Eid involved being handed Eidi that day. Eidi is a gift or cash present given to children (I am apparently still one and for once, I am not complaining) by the elders of the family or community. There’s nothing like the cold crispness of a note to make a kid like me happy.

Image Source: Asmita Sarkar
Image Source: Asmita Sarkar

Eid marks the end of Ramzan and the beginning of the month of Shawwal. An entire month of fasting and prayers finally ends with a celebration. The festival was originated by the Prophet after migrating to Medina from Mecca (hijri). Etymologically, Eid means holiday and is celebrated as a day of merriment and enjoyment. Celebrations begin with the sighting of the crescent moon or hilal and continue till the next day.

The gastronomical bonanza that Eid is, has finally arrived after a month of anticipation and fasting. Eid-ul-Fitr is often called “meethi Eid’’ in South Asian countries because of the amount and variety of sweet dishes like qiwami sewaiyaan, sheer khurma, cham cham, ras malai, halwa consumed on this occasion. The rituals and culinary options vary, depending upon which part of the world you are in. In Turkey dishes like baklava and Turkish Delights are especially popular while in Egypt Kahk cookies are served on this day. In Senegal, as everywhere else, people buy new clothes, locally known as korite. This year’s Ramzan has been particularly tough for Muslims in Europe where the fasting period extended for almost twenty hours in some countries.

Buying new clothes and celebrating may seem like all that Eid is about however it is important to keep in mind that fitra or charity is a deeply significant aspect of Eid. All Muslims who can, are required to donate to charity on Eid, failing which the celebrations are said to be incomplete. In cities like Birmingham in the UK, a makeshift Eidgah is organized where food and gifts were pegged at reasonable prices and stallholders donated generously to charity. If one were to take a stroll around Jama Masjid in Delhi, they would spot curiously long lines of people in rags at Garib Nawaz Hotel. Hundreds of homeless people are fed with 2 tandoori rotis and one bowl of mutton stew by the owners every day during Ramzan for a mere 20 rupees. Anyone can go and sponsor a meal there.

As I write this, Premchand’s Eidgah comes to mind, where little Hamid spends his Eidi on buying a pair of tongs for his old grandmother. The story etched a beautiful image of Eid in our popular consciousness, one that involved celebration but also caring for others. Ramzan has ended and so will this column. It has been quite a journey for me- one which involved learning many new things and led to a lot of self-introspection. I developed a more nuanced perspective of the many aspects that make me who I am- a liberal Indian Muslim woman, trying to make my own space. An identity that I hope finds some resonance amongst many like me. I can’t say I have found all the answers, but definitely a lot more clarity. The question of Muslim identity and culture is a dynamic and constantly evolving one. We are all struggling to truly find ourselves and perhaps that search will never end. However, I still think festivals are a beautiful time not just because they involve good food and new clothes but simply because sometimes the comfort of company and the knowledge of having done some good can leave us with our own small moments of joy.

Eid Mubarak to all of you! I hope you have a wonderful one.

This article is part of Youth Ki Awaaz’s special coverage of Ramzan this month. Follow Ramzan With Zehra for more.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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