Summer came this year not just with bright, sunny days but also brought with it the blessed month of Ramzan — a month of prayer, supplication and gratitude to Allah for the blessings He has conferred upon us. However, there is a certain festive colour to this month with its sehri and iftar traditions until it finally culminates into the most awaited festival of the year: Eid-ul-Fitr. This year however, Eid is to be celebrated under the dark clouds of coronavirus and for this reason it is going to carry different overtones than the ones we are used to. We will have to be much more circumspect in undertaking activities like meeting with friends and relatives and going out for chaand-raat bazaars might not even be possible, but this is not to say that we cannot have fun this year; we just need adapt our Eid festivities to the prevailing circumstances.
Throughout the month of Ramzan, Muslims not only fast and engage in prayer seeking forgiveness and Allah’s pleasure, but they also try to immerse themselves in the true spirit of Ramzan, which is to be mindful of those who have less. In this context, apart from helping the less fortunate by giving the obligatory zakat, Muslims aslo make a point of helping others by giving charity in the form of money, provisions, clothes and serving meals at sehri and iftar. This invokes a spirit of goodwill and community welfare.
Ramzan is a time of intense spiritual renewal and its completion is marked by Eid-ul-Fitr, a day of celebrations, festivities, harmony and brotherhood. After a month of abstinence and repentance, Eid marks a time of joy but with the same mindfulness that is a hallmark of Ramzan, i.e., sharing from ones abundance with those who are needy. Before Eid, during the last few days of Ramzan, each Muslim family gives Sadaqah al-fitr (charity of fast-breaking), a pre-determined amount as a donation to the poor. This donation is typically in form of food rather than money — rice, barley, dates, etc. — to ensure that the needy are also able to enjoy a nourishing holiday meal and participate in the celebration. Over the Eid holidays, Muslims usually visit relatives and friends, give gifts (especially to children), make visits to graveyards, and make phone calls to people who are away to greet them for the holiday. This year around we can do all of this minus the part where we visit relatives and friends. For their safety and for our own, we can make voice and video calls to let them know that we are thinking about them and would otherwise be with them. This year we can all come together virtually instead of physcially in hopes that we will spend the next Eid together.
Eid is a time when families and communities come together. This makes it a festival that is not only to be celebrated with family and friends but one which is marked by a general sense of fellowship within the community. It symbolizes unity, harmony, goodwill and a sense of communion. This Eid more than ever before we need to look after the under privileged and those who have been affected by the changed economic circumstances due to the pandemic. This will give infinitely more joy than merely dressing up and taking selfies! As for the usual stuff, that too can still be done, only with a few adjustments. Since going out to get mehndi applied to your hands is not an option this year, look up on YouTube and you can not only end up with beautiful mehndi designs on your hands but also have fun learning something new. You can then put those gorgeous bangles on that have been sitting in your dresser since last Eid or even before, dress up, make a video and send to your grandparents, friends or any other loved ones you want to share these things with. As for the Eid feast, try exciting new recipes, take photographs and share with your dear ones. Or maybe set a time for the feast and eat together over a video call! Maybe even make a little extra and share with the guard at your street corner. And instead of that movie you couldn’t watch because the theatres are closed, watch one of the classics you have always wanted to but somehow couldn’t.
Women represent the core of any family so their role in this context is extremely important. They are the ones who need to pass on baton of Ramzan and Eid culture from one generation to the next in order for the spirit of this important time of the year to keep alive. Modified traditions set in these uncertain times can aspire to bring positive change and maintain universal goodwill, setting a timeless example of a synchronised and united society. HH
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