RIYADH, 18 November 2004 — Pakistanis living in Riyadh celebrated Eid Al-Fitr in a traditional way, despite the changes in lifestyle brought about by modern trends. Most Pakistani expatriates preferred to wear traditional dresses, colorful bangles and henna patterns during the celebration. Scores of men, young and old, were seen chewing betel quids, picnicking in the desert and holding gossip sessions.
“We attended some very lively get-togethers in Riyadh before driving for Madinah on the second day of Eid,” said Naseem Kamran, an engineer working for the last 25 years here. Kamran said the enthusiasm to hold Eid festivities was evident from a number of lunch and dinner parties organized by individuals and associations during the week.
Traditional clothes and jewelry were worn by Pakistanis of all ages, especially young boys and girls.
“The glittering bangles and the intricate henna patterns on girls’ hands keep the traditional aura in the air,” said Hassan Jamal, a language teacher. “Girls who rarely wear jewelry in everyday life enjoy wearing bangles on this special day.”
Shumbul, a girl buying bangles at a street stall, said, “I don’t like wearing more than a delicate bracelet in my wrist while going to college. However, for Eid day, I especially buy lots of colorful bangles to match my clothes.”
But, for hundreds of Pakistanis in Somaisi Jadeed, which has a huge concentration of Pakistani workers and hence known as “Islamabad of Riyadh”, the experience has been altogether different.
Inayatullah Karim, a Pakistani plumber, spent a great deal of Eid day sitting with friends on Daur-e-Muslim Chowk (a roundabout in Somaisi Jadeed), which serves as a meeting point for the residents of “Islamabad”. He and his friends enjoyed Eid this year with staggered gossip sessions, “while viewing Indian and Pakistani films and dramas from time to time.”
Karamat, a worker at a construction company, agreed. “We celebrated Eid with great enthusiasm despite being thousands of kilometers away from our dear and near,” Karamat said.
Pakistani workers still could be seen sitting leisurely on the “Daur-e-Muslim Chowk”, thanks to the extended holiday to due to the weekend. After Asr prayers, the streets of Somaisi bustle with the presence of Pakistanis adding fervor to the festive mood.
This year, there seems to be a greater number of stalls selling Pakistani dresses, cuisine, bangles, henna and readymade outfits in Somaisi.
Recounting his experience, Abdul Azim Shahzad, an adviser at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI), said, “We visited the new Al-Salam Park at Deira area, where we enjoyed a lot. The park is beautiful with a lake. My children and family also exchanged greetings with their loved ones in Pakistan by phone and the Internet.”
Danish Mirza, a 12th grader at the Pakistan Embassy School, said he had been putting up a stall of fashion accessories at Eid for a few years now. It always did great business. “There is lot of competition. Lots of Saudis also visit the stalls selling Pakistan fashion wares. I think they enjoy the atmosphere and do a lot of shopping,” he said. “I saved a lot of money by selling those items.”
Shahnaz K. Katariwala, a housewife, celebrates Eid in a quieter way. “I first gave ‘Eidi’ to my children,” said Shahnaz. Receiving Eidi (money gifts from elders to younger ones in the family on the occasion of Eid) brings happiness to children, who spend it in buying sweets, CD games, clothes and other items.