Wearing the spirit of Ramazan
It was in the holy
month of Ramazan 65 years ago in 1947 when The Viceroy of British India, Lord
Mountbatten, read out the proclamation of Independence of both Pakistan and
India issued by King George VI. Thus, Pakistan came into existence in the
month of August and, according to the Islamic lunar calendar, it was the
night of 27th Ramazan, one of the most sacred nights for Muslims.
It is not often that the
Islamic lunar calendar coincides with the Gregorian calendar as it has this
year. For the last few years, the holy month of Ramazan has been falling in
the month of August and due to the sanctity of the month, when a majority of
Muslims fast and refrain from many activities, Independence Day celebrations
of Pakistan have been relatively muted and are not being observed as
enthusiastically as earlier.
Apart from the activities
of adults on the occasion of Pakistan’s Independence Day, the celebrations
remain an important event in the academic calendar of both public and private
educational institutions in the country as almost every school prepares its
pupils for the day, holding debate competitions, flag-hoisting ceremonies and
other activities to apprise the students of the struggle their forefathers
carried out to get independence from the British Raj.
Unfortunately, this year
the Independence Day activities for students as schools have been badly
affected not only due to the holy month but also owing to poor planning of
the education department. Most government schools are
closed for the entire month of August as part of the summer vacations,
independence activities at schools are not being planned with traditional
Although the students of
Karachi University and NED University of Engineering and Technology prepared
and hoisted a 140-meter-long national flag as part of the Independence Day
celebrations, their activity did not grab the attention it deserved. It also
failed to inject energy into the lethargic mood of the nation, which goes
into virtual hibernation in the month of fasting.
On the streets, some stalls
selling national flags of different sizes, badges and emblems have been set
up in certain parts of the city but according to owners of these stalls, they
are not getting too much of positive response from youngsters, who otherwise,
throng the outlets to buy the national flags and other independence day
paraphernalia and prepare for the day in the month of August every year.
“You will hardly see any
car or vehicle with the national flag on it while homes have not been
decorated with emblems so far. All this is due to the month of fasting when
parents are busy with iftaar and sehri and taking their families for
Eid shopping,” Abdul Quddus, an elderly person who sells national
flags and other items every year near Water Pump Chowrangi, told Kolachi.
Quddus said he had started selling flags, badges, emblems and armbands
bearing the Pakistani flag
since the first of August but so far he has managed to sell hardly a
few flags and some badges. To add to his woes, many children were not going
to schools due to the summer vacations while their parents were too busy in
Ramazan and Eid related activities to devote much time to the upcoming
Independence Day celebrations.
Meanwhile, both the
state-owned and private electronic media has also not been as enthusiastic
about Independence Day celebrations as it used to be in previous years. The
relative lack of August 14 coverage has also added to the lack of enthusiasm
among the masses this year.
Abdul Shakoor Nizami, a
retired educationist who organises Independence Day activities every year on
August 14 near his residence in Azizabad, blamed the Ulema and prayer leaders
for the poor public response towards the celebrations, saying the prayer
leaders were asking the faithful to celebrate Independence Day on the 27th of
Ramazan by offering prayers, reciting verses from the Holy Quran and
distributing sweets in mosques instead of 'wasting their energies on singing
songs' on August 14.
“I have often heard from
the Ulema that fortunately, Pakistan came into existence in the month of
Ramazan and the date on the Islamic calender was the 27th so instead of
singing national songs and indulging in other ‘futile’ activities, the
people of Pakistan should celebrate independence in an Islamic manner, by
offering prayers at mosques and homes,” he observed.
Nizami made it clear that
he was not against offering prayers for the well-being of the country and its
people in the holy month of Ramazan but added that other activities, which
are normally held in schools and colleges, including the singing of national
songs competitions, quiz shows and tableaus, should also take place to create
awareness among youth and children about their history.
“And then there are
non-Muslims, including Christians and Hindus, who are just as loyal
Pakistanis as Muslims but they don’t keep fasts in Ramazan and should
celebrate Independence Day according to their own traditions,” he observed.
Some critics of this view
believe that because Pakistan was a gift from the Almighty Allah to the
Muslims of the Indian subcontinent that was granted to them in the holy month
of Ramazan they should celebrate Independence Day in a more Islamic manner,
by going to mosques on the 27th of Ramazan, offering nawalfil, helping the
poor and seeking the forgiveness of God. They believe that the government
should celebrate Independence Day every year on the 27th Ramadan.
The increasingly polarised
debate on whether Pakistan’s Independence Day should be observed according
to the Islamic or Gregorian calendar only
reflects the fact that at the moment, the nation is divided into
various sects, castes and races on the basis of linguistic and religious
identities. Unfortunately, the most important event for the country is being
largely ignored or downplayed both at the public and governmental levels,
which should be a cause of concern for the well-wishers of the country.
The News photos by Sonia
the spirit of Ramazan and Independence
August this year
has brought with it two significant events, Ramazan and Independence Day, and
online retail outlets generally run by young university students responded
accordingly. A number of customized Ramazan-Independence Day T-shirts with
catchy one-liners are on sale just a click away.
‘Not only Perfect but
Pakistani too’ and ‘Pakistan- No place like home’ are two of the five
T-shirt designs that an online brand which calls itself Faalsay is offering.
“We just did kurtas for
girls on our page before, but when we started doing customized T-shirts the
response was overwhelming,” said Rama Siddiqui, one of the founders of the
brand and a young medical student.
The reason she believed was
the fact that kurtas just went to a small market segment - young girls - but
with T-shirts and the Independence Day mood men, boys, girls and little kids
- everyone wanted to buy one.
‘Keep Calm and Naara-e-Pakistan’
is a T-shirt a young girl in a cross legged yoga pose sports on their page.
The campaign is creative, it involves four friends; two guys and two girls
together. They sit in a lawn and talk, they laugh, they high five, wearing
the T-shirts on sale and more importantly share a bowl full of faalsas. The
brand is endorsed.
“We came out with a video
shoot too,” shared Feryal Shahab, co-founder for the group. The video has
the same youth appeal: four friends wearing the Independence Day T-shirts go
out on a drive. They end up sitting on some rocks by the sea, sharing a bowl
The online brand which
started only six months back has received 50 orders for these tees in the
last couple of days, “More were coming, but we had to refuse. We’re both
studying, and there is only so much we can handle,” laughs Feryal Shahab.
Another online brand with
the name of KoncepTees offers ‘Pakistani’ T-shirts too. They have 14
designs, each on either a black or white background. One of them has ‘Meri
jaan Pakistan’ splashed across it in a green Urdu script. Another has
‘The world’s greatest Pakistani’ written on it.
A group of students from
Bahria University have come out on their Facebook page with what they call
‘their Ramazan collection’. Each T-shirt comes with a catch line for the
month, which talks about spiritual matters such as belief and prayers.
A particularly interesting
design has a half-charged battery on it. Underneath, in neon green, it reads,
‘Ramazan - time to recharge’. Another says ‘five salah for falah’
written on it. Two more say, ‘Smile because it’s Sunnah’ and
‘Everyday I am Muslim’.
The companies come in with
a photo shoot, friends and volunteers who agree to pose wearing the tees.
Though amateur photographers and models, the shoot has all the spice of a
successful marketing campaign. They are chic, carry everyday faces and appeal
to the tech savvy youth.
One of the reasons for the
success of these online retail outlets is they cut down the cost of running a
shop. The cost benefit as a result is passed on to customers. The T-shirts
are cheap (Rs 500-750) and they cannot come at your doorstep.
To order, one only has to
email the group. The companies generally deliver through a courier service,
and there is cash on delivery.
The T-shirts are close to
the designers' hearts, just like a painting is to its artist. And for some,
it is more than just a business. “Our inspiration to launch a 14th August
collection was to reignite the Independence spirit, to not limit this day as
just an excuse for a holiday but to take a moment and realise how lucky we
are to be Pakistani,” Rama Siddiqui told Kolachi.