Saturday, October 21, 2006

Edi-e Fetr and Diwali

Last night we were invited to a joint Eid-e Fetr and Diwali party thrown by a lovely couple we know: He is Pakistani-American and she is Indian (half Hindu, Half Muslim). As a mixed marriage of Pakistani and Indian, where one member of the union is both Hindu and Muslim, they defy the tragic logic of sectarianism and nationalism.

The party was an expression of transcending these divisions. As most of us know, of course, these separations, if they have not been created by colonial/neo-colonial projects, have certainly been aggravated and encouraged by them. So it was great to take part in jointly celebrating Muslim and Hindu holidays with a mixed crowd of mostly Indians and Pakistanis. At the end of the day, people who have been living side-by-side for centuries have more in common than the external forces that come in to stoke the flames of absolutist separatism, and I really believe that these divide-and-conquer tactics can only go so far before they fail and/or totally backfire.

Anyway, the gathering was great fun, and there were even moments of hilarity arising from the fact that a certain south asian desert is called by a name that has a vulgar meaning in Persian. About twenty people asked me some version of "so, niki, do they have X in iran?" or "so, Niki, do they eat X in Iran?". Raed thought the whole thing was hilarious and tried to prolong these inquiries. I just avoided eye contact with him and kept my composure during these admittedly amusing exchanges. So you see, even when there are cultural/linguistic/national differences, they can be quite fun.

A happy Eid-e Fetr to all Muslims and a Happy Diwali to all Hindus, and special greetings to those who celebrate both.