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A festival for men

Shekib Nekbin, Mazar-e-Sharif / actAugust 22, 2012

As Afghanistan celebrated the end of Ramadan, the men had more fun than the women, who got stuck cooking and cleaning. But now it's the women's turn to enjoy Eid.


"Thank God it's over!" says 23-year-old Nasima in Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan.

She is referring to Eid - the Muslim festival which marks the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting. In Afghanistan the festival is celebrated for a total of three days. Nasima would have gladly done without: "Like most celebrations in Afghanistan, Eid is a festival for men," she tells DW.

She lifts up her glass of green tea slowly, blowing on it. It's the first time in ages that she's been able to enjoy her tea in peace. "I'm exhausted. I've just been cooking and cleaning for the past few weeks."

Traditionally, the end of Ramadan is a time for men to visit their friends and families and entertain guests. The cooking and cleaning is the responsibility of the women.

Cursing each plate

Like most young married Afghan women, Nasima has to live with her husband's family. It is traditional for young couples to live with the man's family for economic reasons. Up to 20 people might live under one roof.

Nasima spent the whole of Ramadan and Eid looking after the men of the household and their guests. She said she cursed the guests each time she washed up a plate. "Not really badly though!"

Her tea has now reached the right temperature. She takes two gulps and complains that the men don't help the women at all.

"You can believe me when I say we were preparing fantastic dishes for iftar (the fast-breaking dinner) from dusk till dawn. Afterwards, the men thanked the Blessings of Ramadan for such a laden table but did not thank us at all."

But it has nothing to do with blessings, she says - "It's our hard work that ensured the table was full."

She is quiet one moment and then complains that many Afghans have forgotten the reason for fasting and do not know the real meaning of Ramadan. "God wants Muslims to fast so as to purify themselves, but not to overindulge."

Before she is able to continue, somebody knocks at the door. "Oh god, who is it now?" she asks sighing and makes her way to the kitchen.

For most women in Mazar-e-Sharif, Eid begins a week after the end of Ramadan. "It's our turn when the men have stopped their visits, and stopped receiving guests. And only if we are allowed by the men to visit our friends and families. But then we really do have fun," Nasima says laughing.