I was 8 or 9 year old when I first fasted. The only feeling I remember is excitement! I had no reservations or worries about it.
Would it be hard? Sure. But I had a bunch of things going for me. First of all, I lived in Pakistan – a Muslim country. Which meant that schools were minimum days. Plus I would get home and get to nap for the harder part of the day! Nearly everyone I knew was fasting too, which meant I had very little explaining to do to anyone.
And here is the cherry on top – I would get a giant party!
Generation after generation in my family, the first fast is celebrated with a grand Iftar! Halls are booked, houses are transformed and caterers are hired. It’s basically a mini wedding.
Like many of the women in my family had done before, I also got to dress up more than I had ever before. I went and got my hair done, got new fancy jewelry and my mom made my a dress by hand! I felt like a princess.
Fast forward to Ramadan 2019 – the first year my niece was going to fast. That’s when I realized things were a bit different for her. She had more than just excitement – she was nervous too! There are so many more obstacles for kids in non-muslim countries when they fast.
She worried about getting through the long school day, surviving lunch hour, PE class, being able to concentrate on work and most of all having to explain it to everyone! She was still excited, but the nervousness was apparent.
Though we couldn’t take away her long school days or lunch hour, we were able to calm her nerves by continuing on our traditions. We invited her friends from school to come celebrate her first fast in a grand fashion!
We decorated the house, got the caterers, invited the family and gave her the princess treatment. We took her out to get her henna done, had her go get hair done, set her dupatta, and even a little bit of tinted lip gloss!
We had a little milad before maghreb and invited her to be the first to break her fast! She felt so special! Having her friends be there for here big day definitely made a difference!