After reading Inner Voice on Chhath Puja (October 27), I feel like sharing an intriguing fact. When I was a child, the dawning of Eid would mean eating lots of goodies, wearing new clothes and enjoying the festival with friends, but I would feel sorry to see my grandmother give up the festivities and begin fasting again on the second day of Eid itself. When I asked her why, she told me that the fasts after Eid are called Shash Eid (six fasts after Eid).
The observance of these fasts are meant to lead to spiritual rejuvenation and contemplation of the truth that material abundance and pleasure is shortlived and that the soul must prepare itself for the hereafter.
The Hadith says that one who fasts on these six days after Eid will acquire the merit of having fasted for a year. The importance of these fasts lies in the difficulty of observing them as they test one’s will power to control oneself amidst the gaiety of the festival.
However, after having thought more deeply on the subject of fasting after feasting, I am reminded of the archetypes of Jung’s collective unconscious. The path to spiritual awakening has since times immortal lain in trying to gain control of one’s senses. Very probably the idea of regaining spiritual equanimity after indulging oneself in the pleasures of festivity is something that belongs to the Universal Unconscious rather than the personal Unconscious. In other words, the concept of self-purification may be part of the second psychic system which is common to all human beings.
When I once told a friend that we Muslims observe six more fasts after Eid, she told me that they too observe fasts after Diwali, known as the Chhath festival. I am mystified by this common thread running between Eid and Diwali!
That brings me to the question: why should there be divisions between us when we all live by certain universal beliefs and traditions and the desire for spiritual awakening so obviously lies in each heart, Hindu or Muslim?