In Muslim traditions, the arrival of a new-born in a family is always an exciting moment and it definitely brings joy, smiles, and lots of happiness to everyone. The idea of celebrating that special occasion, filled with pristine happiness in a special manner immediately comes to the mind and preparations to mark the occasion in a very special way, start taking shape – especially with a view to making it a memorable event!
Sure, there are many ways of celebrating the arrival of a new baby. Some of the rituals associated with the event differ from one culture to another. Yet, one common factor in that special family event is that the birth of a child is a solemnly joyous occasion for everybody. The new parents are always attracted to the idea of throwing a party — indeed, a feast — to introduce their new baby to family and friends. The idea behind it all is to share the joy and receive the blessings of all for the new-born.
Among Muslims, the arrival of a new-baby is hailed by hosting an “Aqeeqa” for family and friends. Assad Bhuglah, who is a well-known personality in the literary circle of Mauritius as a talented author, has come up with a new book or play, entitled “Aqeeqa,” in which he very adroitly brings to light the cultural practices and rituals as well as the folklore of the Mauritius Muslims in welcoming a new-born in the family in what is called “Aqeeqa”.
In a multi-cultural society, like ours, it is very important that we share our cultural values with the other communities — which can only help promote and maintain the spirit of goodwill, understanding and peace and harmony among our rainbow-nation. Assad truly believes – and I totally agree with him — that the more we know about each other’s culture and traditions, the more solid will be our understanding and stronger our bonds of amity in our diverse society. And, sure, he deserves to be applauded for his initiative.
As a matter of fact, it is not the first time that Assad is opening the cultural windows of the Muslims to the larger Mauritian multicultural community. Earlier, he fulfilled a similar objective with his much-applauded play “Bhandaari” in which he focussed on the rich culinary traditions of the Muslims of Mauritius.
And, as he did in the case of his play “Bhandaari,” Assad has, once again, privileged me with an advance copy of “Aqeeqa” before its official launching.
The play “Aqeeqa,” is a comedy-drama in English and Kreol. I have been well impressed with the plot. It revolves around a very simple but touching story filled with some very moving soliloquies. On stage, I’ve no doubt, it should impress greatly and may even bring tears to many eyes with the proper atmosphere and mood, accentuated with proper lighting, music and dialogue delivery. It is definitely a brilliant piece of drama and many people – Muslim or not – will like it as everyone, in one way or another, can well relate to the plot-situations and the leading characters.
The ritual of “Aqeeqa” is performed in many parts of the Muslim world and is a recommended practice in Islam. It is traditionally performed or celebrated on the 7th, 14th, or 21st day after the birth of a child. This tradition, which also includes a naming ceremony, involves a ritual in which the baby’s head is shaved and the hair is collected and weighed and an equal amount of gold or silver or its monetary equivalent is given out in charity. Also, an animal (usually a goat or sheep) is sacrificed on the occasion and a portion of the meat is used during the celebratory feast with family and friends while the rest of the meat is usually distributed among the poor and needy.
Moreover, Muslims also believe that the “Azaan”(*), (Muslim call to prayer), should be the first words a Muslim new-born hears. Thus the “Azaan” is dutifully whispered into the right ear of the child by the father. Muslims also believe that an infant’s first taste should be something sweet so that sweetness ever flows from his mouth. In Islam, this is done by rubbing in the baby’s upper palate, either a softened date or a bit of honey.
Assad’s play, “Aqeeqa,” will be launched by the President of the Republic, H. E. Mr. Prithvirajsing Roopun, G.C.S.K., on September 16, 2020, at Hennessy Park Hotel at Ebene, Cybercity, under the aegis of the Petrusmok Bookstore.
Unfortunately, based as I am in Canada, and due to international travel restrictions imposed by Covid—19 Pandemic, I will miss the function. Too bad! But I’ll be there in spirit with my friend Assad, cheering him on with my hearty congratulations. “Aqeeqa” is, definitely another feather in his cap after the success of his earlier Plays: “BHANDAARI” and “DR. IDRICE GOUMANY”.
Moreover, I should like to add a word of appreciation for Assad’s proud sponsors – Currimjee Jeewanjee & Co. Ltd. – a firm that has always shown sustained interest in promoting the works of Mauritian authors and artists. To me, there is no doubt that Assad Bhuglah’s “Aqeeqa” is a rich addition to the pool of our growing Mauritian literature. Way to go, Assad!