For as long as I can remember, my family has celebrated Eid (or as we call it, Lebaran) almost secularly. To us, Eid isn’t just the biggest Muslim festival of the year; it’s a day to spend with friends and family, both Muslim and non-Muslim. Now at university, miles away from home, I try to keep the same spirit: it doesn’t matter that I don’t have Muslim friends to celebrate and pray with on Eid, because what matters most to me is sharing food with the people I care about.
At home, Eid looks like this: I shake my parents groggily awake at 7AM. I dress in new clothes, because you always try to get new clothes for Eid, and most years that’s been an abaya or a nice blouse with jeans for me. Then, we drive to my grandmother’s, and that’s when the day really begins.
By the time we arrive, the tables are lined with food. There is rendang, opor, ketupat and lontong sayur filling the house with their aroma, and, of course, the table covered in sweets, and the freezer full of dessert. We take half an hour to pray salat Eid together as a family, aunts and uncles and cousins and parents and grandparents, before guests start streaming into the house. I spend the day greeting people related to me by so many degrees of separation that I don’t know who they are, hugging them, calling them auntie and uncle. I chase my brother and younger cousins around my grandmother’s house and garden, and follow my grandmother around obediently as she introduces me to all her cousins and friends, who all congratulate me on my grades and pat my cheeks.
Because this is my grandmother’s party, my older cousin and I spend most of the day helping out. We stand by the front door and greet friends and family with bows and smiles, wishing them minal aidin wal faizin and gushing over how much their children have grown. We gather empty plates, woven from wood and lined with banana leaves we can throw out for easy cleaning. We offer to refill grandmothers and grandfathers’ water glasses, and bring more bowls of soup and more trays of rice cakes.
Not everyone at my grandmother’s Eid parties celebrate Eid; many of them are there to meet old friends and reunite with family. My grandmother welcomes all people of all races and religions, no matter their relation to her, at her house on Eid. That’s how I celebrate Eid - a day of love, celebration, and unity.