By Arooj Khalid
LAHORE, Pakistan – Eid-al-Fitr, the celebratory feast that comes at the end of a month of fasting for Ramadan and is based on the sighting of the crescent moon, arrived three times in Pakistan this year.
Besides the sad feeling of saying farewell to Ramadan, this year the Pakistani public experienced a weird feeling when the news channels flashed the sighting of the moon in North Waziristan on August 17, earlier than anticipated.
People had expected Eid, which is celebrated on the first day of Shawwal, or the 10th month of the Islamic lunar calendar, on August 19 or 20 this year.
So the news of Eid celebrations in Waziristan seemed half-baked to most of the people, but it really was true. Those areas celebrated Eid on Saturday, Aug. 18, while the rest of Pakistan, thinking of it as the 29th day of Ramadan, spent the day fasting.
The Ruet-e-Hilal or Crescent sighting Committee held its session on Saturday the 18th. The weather department had announced few chances of the Shawwal crescent to be spotted and as the sundown came closer and passed away, the committee failed to sight the moon at all.
Before the committee chairman, Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rahman, could announce 30 days of Ramadan, the zonal moon sighting committee of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province started receiving testimonies of moon sighting.
Usually, if the committee gets enough credible testimonies, Eid is announced. But this unique story had another side. Despite the zonal committee getting 24 testimonials from Peshawar, and 15 from Mardan, the central Ruet-e-Hilal committee announced Eid to be on Monday, Aug. 20.
The zonal committee protested and complained that the central committee had not even considered the testimonies, whereas the central committee regarded them as improbable.
When all was said and done, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government announced Eid in the province on Sunday, Aug. 19. The central committee still stands by its decision of observing Eid on Monday, Aug. 20.
At last the hassle came to an end and three Eids were celebrated in one country, with North Waziristan celebrating Eid on August 18, KPK province on the 19th and the rest of the Pakistan observing on August 20.
Some people blame this obscure confusion on the government, which left the public wondering, but others blamed it on outside rivals who often keep creating problems and hurdles as Pakistan strives for national unity.