Fahim and I went to Kurunegala on Thursday to spend Festival there – the English way of saying Eid ul-Fitr. Eid was yesterday, Friday, for us here.
There are traditions that go along with that. One is the giving of new clothing to each other. Fahim and I gave his mother a sari (peach with gold, silk – very nice), and shirts to each of his father and brother. In return, they gave Fahim a new shirt and to me, a sari.
Another tradition is that they have to take showers on Festival before they put on their new clothing. Oh, and since I don’t yet have the blouse or underskirt to go with the sari, I wore my new shalwaar, which Fahim’s mother was impressed by (I sewed it myself. [Smile] )
Since it’s the day after Ramadan ends, it also means eating. Food was bought from outside – and it was an enormous amount of food. Fahim’s mother’s sister and her children (2 men, 1 girl) came over and spent Eid with the lot of us. At lunch time, a cloth was spread out on the floor and on it were placed a huge bowl of rice surrounded by smaller bowls of various kinds of curries. The men then at around the rice bowl and ate communally out of that bowl.
The women were supposed to do something similar, but with a separate bowl from the men. We ended up using plates instead – I suspect that Fahim’s mom took sympathy on me, hence the plates, even though I was willing to try out the communal rice pot.
Anyway, with a communal rice pot, you put a bowl of one kind of curry on the rice and eat that up, then put on the next bowl of curry and eat that up, and so on and so forth until everyone’s done.
After that, we had Wattalapam, which is a coconut milk and jaggery custard (jaggery is from the kitul palm, and the best way I know of to describe it is as wet brown sugar that’s been pressed into blocks). I’ve had it before – bought from the grocery store or had it at fancy restaurants – and like it very much, but his mom’s was far far better than the rest. Fahim’s told me that wattalapam is a Muslim specialty here, and no one else gets it quite right. Now that I’ve had Fahim’s mom’s, I’m inclined to agree with him. It was . . . better than I could possibly describe.
And there was lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of talking. Most of it in Sinhalese, and a little in English. Oh, and some in Tamil, as well.