EID-UL-AZHA this year follows a period of relative normalcy after a devastating second Covid-19 wave that once again resulted in a nationwide lockdown through March to May. In Kashmir, one more pandemic-induced lockdown capped two years of extraordinary disruption, that has witnessed successive lockdowns, both security and healthcare-driven. In the process, the Valley’s businesses have suffered a humungous loss. According to an estimate by the local business bodies, the Valley’s economy last year suffered a loss of around Rs 50,000 crore. Its fallout on the ground has been grim: thousands of people have lost their jobs. Sectors of the economy like tourism, handicrafts, hotel industry, IT, transport etc have been crushed. Many people have been forced to shut down their old unviable businesses and start new ones.
Similarly, across the country, the disruption last year cut the country’s GDP growth by a whopping one-fourth. In real terms, this meant a loss of lakhs of jobs, ruining of businesses, migration of labour, etc. This year the situation has, more or less, replicated.
The fallout on the livelihoods of the people has been far-reaching. What is more, there is little hope to look forward to. The continuing uncertainty in the situation has further deteriorated the situation turning the lives of many more people upside down.
So, while we celebrate Eid, a festivity that is incumbent on all Muslims, we need to be mindful of the immediate tragedy that has befallen a large section of our society, over and above the trauma and grief that we have been experiencing for so many years nows. This calls for us to be much more austere in our celebration. We need to show that we care about them on the Eid too.
Those of us who could afford to spend should instead donate the amount we would otherwise spend on consumables for our brethren in distress. The same goes for the people who spend lavishly on Eid feast. They would earn more Sawab and God’s goodwill should they also contribute some amount to the people who have nothing. Let this Eid further strengthen and sustain the spirit of community effort that has made us resilient in the face of the worst adversity.
More than an occasion of joy, Eid in Kashmir is a time for reflection. And of mourning too, for the thousands who have died over the past thirty years. Eid is inherently also about joy and celebration but there is nothing routine about this joy. The festival is about spiritual renewal and a sense of fulfilment. In Kashmir and of course in other troubled spots of the world, Eid assumes a meaning that runs even deeper. It is a very solemn occasion for individual and collective reflection and remembrance. It is also about our obligation towards our society.
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