At the moment we are all waiting for the New Moon. The Saudi’s have called for the Moon Sighting Committee to convene, and investigate possible sightings. Plenty of Govt. agencies have placed predictions on when the moon will be seen, Bahrain has asked for its people to be on the look out and report the first sighting to a local official. And last night even I was frantically searching for the blasted thing. You see Ramadan doesn’t end until the New Moon is seen in the skies above wherever you are. So It came as a big surprise when Saudi announced that the moon had been sighted to coincide with the end of their weekend! Although why they would bother lord only knows (they get the best part of two weeks off anyway).
See it turns out there is a lot of politics brewing over the moon. I expect David Cameron to jump on the “Moon Sighting” bandwagon shortly! There seems to be a certain amount of histrionics about it too. I mean I’m pretty sure that the moon is predictable (didn’t we all learn that in school), plus we don’t really do cloudy nights out here, so no danger of that. So why the fuss? From what I understand its to do with inter-country rivalries, the UAE not wanting to organize themselves around the Saudi’s. Although this morning the Government announced that Eid would begin tomorrow (no moon sighting, just guessing I assume?), so pretty much negating the need for all this committee lark…..you can tell they used to be British ruled! “What we need is a moon sighting committee!” etc etc
So yesterday was Divali (the festival of lights, that is celebrated with a back to front swastika), and a group of us trudged down to the creek to see what all the fuss was about. Tom and I were the brave ones, we opted to take off our shoes, and wander into the Hindu Temple to have a look around. Dubai is tolerant of all religions…….. to a point, so there is only one church and only one temple, and before you ask no Synagogue. Also they are not keen on religions celebrating their faiths, so there were no fireworks allowed, a pretty fundamental tenet of the festival, and only a few rogue individuals dared to break that edict. The temple was very humbling, with lots of lights and people praying, a group of women in the corner grinding down flowers to create a very floral smell, were chanting in a low tone sounding like humming. The Temple wasn’t technically open for the prayers, but there were still 30/40 people walking around what can only be described as someone’s house. It was small and from the outside gave no clues that it was the main place of worship, as it turns out there were another four or five “gates” to the rest of the temple dotted around the market stalls and tiny walkways. Downstairs there were portraits of the gods with people offering short prayers and touching them for respect. Tom and I felt privileged to have been part of their evening, if only for a short time. We left and went to see the fuss surrounding a shop across the road. Here they were selling fresh flowers, a gift to the gods, which you would hang up in your house or rub into your hair to leave a strong smell.
Feeling culturally liberated, we then moved onto the Sherlock Holmes pub and tucked into a pint, before going to an iftar buffet after sunset. Very nice indeed, and the next challenge is to figure out how we can muscle in on some Eid celebrations! In the next three days this city is going to explode with people shopping, worshipping, and a festival atmosphere, but were not sure where!
I leave you with an amusing story from the local news. The Dubai Court of First Instance sentenced a man to 2 years in prison the other day. The accused (a Lebanese man) had gone out with a few friends and ended up in a hotel room with 9 Malaysian prostitutes and their Russian minders. When he awoke the next morning he had lost his wallet, so he went to report this to the police, who promptly arrested him for drinking and having an illicit affair. It doesn’t end there, as between the arrest and trial he went home to Beirut and was killed in the fighting. The Court refused to accept that he is dead, and when asked if the defendant would be appealing against the ruling, his lawyer (in disbelief I assume) said- “Why? My client is dead!”
So Eid Mubarak my friends….. I’m going to enjoy my two days off!