Calligraphy, couplets & gaudy e-cards: the dying courtesy of the Eid card
After a month of watching our Muslim brethren with a mix of pity and awe over the last month, Eid is finally upon us. Eid is that time when the non-Islamic community puts aside its casual racism and stereotyping in favour of something a lot more appealing and tasteful - food.
But just showing up for a meal on Eid seems tasteless. After all...
There is, as with everything today, etiquette to be followed. Basic courtesy. A give and take, if you will. And if, like me, you like your biryani but are inherently lazy, it comes in the form of an e-greeting card. Or rather, an E(id)-greeting card.
I have a lot of Muslim friends and they're all intent on feeding me. Not that I'm complaining. What I am complaining about though, is the lack of good e-greeting cards for the occasion. Birthdays are easy, Diwali is easy and Christmas is pretty much what spawned the whole industry, so I assumed Eid wouldn't be far behind.
I was wrong. You can't fault me though; Eid is, after all, only the biggest festival of the world's second most populous religion in the world.
I found out about this phenomenon when a colleague received the following abomination in a mail titled 'Hearty Eid Greetings':
There must be a paucity of decent Eid greeting cards when people are resorting to the cheesiest Valentine's Day ones instead. The only thing hearty about that greeting is the heart-shaped box. As for Eid, that card has nothing to do with it unless there's a Qur'anic verse somewhere about a romantic, chocolate-addicted albino bear. I'm no expert, but I'm guessing there isn't.
It's not like there was never a tradition of Eid greeting cards. They even moved from postcard to greeting cards. They weren't too shabby either. Urdu after all is the language of poetry and Islam lends itself to all kinds of fantastic imagery. Just sample some of these:
But, in an increasingly digital age, the tangible Eid card seems to have died. Sure, they've been resurrected in the age of the internet. But, like in Stephen King's Pet Sematary, resurrection comes with some horrific consequences.
Gone is the meaningful imagery. Gone are the blessings of the pious. The Urdu. The Arabic. The poetic couplets. What a simple online search throws up instead are cards that, with different text, look suspiciously like invites to shitty EDM parties:
Forget the calligraphy that once graced these greetings, cards nowadays can't be arsed to go beyond the basic greeting itself. One assumes that the extremely large font choice (ostensibly for the benefit of the visually impaired) is meant to compensate for it. It doesn't.
There's also the proliferation of the trend I've already lampooned, the gaudy Valentine's Day -Eid double whammy card. They come with roses of every shape, colour and size and some in colours and sizes hitherto not known to man:
Whether there is romantic motive behind them is beyond me. But flirtation on Eid isn't unheard of. But it was once classy and sophisticated. Sample these two couplets picked from old postcards:
"Eid is when I see your eyebrows/ Just seeing the crescent, my dear, is no Eid."
"While everyone is interested in sighting the moon/ I only desire to see your face."
Today's Eid cards though contain all the romance of a third grader desperate for his first kiss.
It just isn't the same. Yes, the day of paper greeting cards has passed, but can someone please issue a fatwa against the sending of these ghastly digital eyesores? They have no aesthetic, poetic or, indeed, religious value. It doesn't have to be tangible, but can we at least reproduce them digitally? If not for the Muslim community, then at least for kaffirs like myself trying to earn my invite to a great Eid dinner.