Gone are the days when sending a card to friends and relatives was an inseparable part of Eid celebration. The children of this digital age will never understand how youths of the past century spent hours after hours in buying, writing, sending or simply making Eid greeting cards for their loved ones.
Not so long ago, makeshift shops, mostly made up of colourful clothes, crafted hay, or white cork sheets, were erected by young entrepreneurs in almost every corner and alley of Dhaka city some 10 to 15 days ahead of Eid. In the middle of hanging out with friends and so-called elder brothers (baro bhais), those youths used to sell Eid cards, a common scene across the country.
At least two loudspeakers, mostly borrowed from somewhat familiar rich families, were displayed in front of these makeshift shops. Latest Bangla songs were a constant company of that buy-and-sell process. These shops, which were meant more of adda, and less of profit, used to sell an array of cards including glittery ones, heart-shaped, multi-fold, Disney-themed, and the classic mosque and crescent moon cards. Sometimes, stickers and pocket cards were available in these shops. No matter how these youths and their enterprises were considered in society, they were an integral part of Eid celebration in 1980s and 1990s.
In those days, people used to throng branded shop outlets like Archie’s Gallery, Hallmark, Azad Products, and Ideal Products for purchasing Eid cards. These brands are still surviving but their Eid card business has dwindled. Sometimes, they get orders for Eid cards from banks and corporate houses. But they are in no way near as popular as they used to be.
The Eid card fever is now over and out.
However, has anyone thought, why?
With the advent of internet and social media, there is only a few people, who sincerely believe in the worth of the handwritten Eid cards. We must admit that it is no longer the age of written letters. Rather, it is all about Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, video call, affordable call rates, and almost free SMS. The young generation is tech-savvy, and does not seem to believe in wasting time, money and labour.
The demise of Eid cards has a close connection with people’s purchasing power. Due to the rising cost of paper, an Eid card has almost doubled or trebled in price in comparison to the 20th century. Why would a consumer spend Tk 50 to Tk 200 on a single card if s/he is getting an option of sending it free via social media or at even less than Tk 0.5 through SMS?
With our busy lifestyles, it is hardly possible to send Eid cards to every friend or relative. Eid cards have become relics of the past because of digital technology, which allows us timely delivery and quick reply. Instead of sending an Eid card, it is much easier to send one SMS greeting to the entire mobile phonebook, share a meme online, update a Facebook, WhatsApp, or Instagram post to greet everyone on the list.
This is how we have almost bidden goodbye to hand-delivered Eid greeting cards.
The culture of exchanging Eid cards remained at its peak till the end of the previous century, and started diminishing with the surge of mobile and online communications.
Yet, many of us who have lived the joy of handpicking, writing, sending, and receiving Eid cards face difficulty, even today, in finding its substitute in the click of buttons.
So, some people like this scribe believe that there may come a time, when hard-paper Eid cards may return to our life because there is nothing like holding something in your hands, which invokes feelings of joy, happiness, sincerity that online can never replace.