By Maarten Deprez
It sounds more spectacular than it is, but it’s fun anyway: the Afghan/Pakistan custom of “fighting” with eggs during the three day Eid festival. At the end of Ramadan, during Eid ul‑Fitr, an Afghan friend told me about this, and after a fruitless attempt to find a YouTube video on the subject, we decided to make our own. Under guidance of this friend annex Hollywoodologist, who not only wrote the script, but also took on the roles of director, cameraman and sound technician — all this with consumer electronics and amateur actors — the various scenes were recorded; and it was entirely due to my reluctance to do the editing, with which I had no prior experience, that it was not published earlier. But now that it has regained it’s relevance, as a second Eid, Eid al‑adha, has arrived, I took courage to finish the task.
The video tells the story of an Eid party, and it’s only around the 4th minute that the “fighting” is about to begin — so, hold on! It also shows what anthropological fieldwork (I think it’s not too difficult to identify the anthropologist) can be like (and that it can be quite fun!); that is, if I’d invent a good “after the fact” research question. By the way, some beautiful real fieldwork video’s are to follow.
Of course, the game is something you can try at home. (Just make sure to cook the eggs before crashing them together.) As you can see in the beginning of the video, the designs on the eggs are made by covering some parts with pieces of tape before the coloring. Oh, and in case you wonder how to get the colors: the eggs (white eggs work best) were cooked with red yeast rice (sold in Asian supermarkets) for red, Peruvian Purple potatoes (probably only available through home cultivation) for a light purple color, turmeric for yellow, and onion peelings for brown‒red. Use your own imagination for more colors.
During the game, the players test the eggs by tapping them with their teeth, and after selecting a supposedly good one, hit the egg of an opponent — either the more pointed ends or the blunt sides together. The one whose egg breaks, loses; the winner tries his egg’s luck with another player. Every egg can thus be played twice — on both sides —, and when the game is over, they’re still good to eat. Enjoy!
Maarten Deprez is student Sociale en Culturele Antropologie.