Ramzan & Eid During COVID – by – Sahar Baig

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Ramzan, a holy experience for every Muslim, is a blessing that we all wait for patiently every year. We get a chance to get closer with our Creator, and avoid anything that keeps us from doing that, making the most of it. Phones flooding with a lot of “Ramzan Mubarak” texts. Sitting down with our grandparents so they can share Islamic stories with us. Along with lassi, parathas, yogurt, the “should be at the Sahar dastarkhwaan” that fill the aroma around the house at the crack of dawn.

Teasing the grumpy family members at the Sahar table is always the highlight and a memory we cherish through out our lives. Playing in the neighbourhood until five minutes before Iftar, and being called inside when the siren goes off.

Silly arguments among children over who will eat more pakoras and samosas at the Iftar dastarkhwaan. Then enjoying a bowl of fruit salad after Maghrib with everyone. Staying up all night with our cousins and sharing jinn stories under the blanket until sahar. And this time, like every year, there must be a thousand reverts who will experience Ramzan, and pray taraweeh in the Masjid for the first time.

Learn the meaning of starving ourselves all day by experiencing it instead of listening and reading about it. However, due to Covid-19 our experiences will be cut short. Gatherings with friends and family sound foreign ever since the world was struck by a wave of a viral virus that took over and distant us from human contact. Jinn stories with cousins are missed.

Many people who live across the globe from their families are bumped to not be able to spend Ramzan with their loved ones. Many plans are postponed until no one knows when. No children shouting and laughing in the neighbourhood until the sound of siren. Being locked up in our houses has affected us in many, many ways. Some became sluggish and others found new hobbies.

Many broken families have found a way to come around and forgive. Many separated. A lot have found ways to cope with their mental health by having so much time on their hands now. A lot are getting to know themselves and finding new interests. Many are sulking and don’t have the energy to get out of their beds because the only way they coped with their mental health was to spend time out, but now they are bound to stay inside, eliminating any source of contact with the outer world other than the internet.

Extroverts are living their worst nightmare, especially those who live alone, and introverts are winning. But even our introverted brothers and sisters are bumped about not being able to go out for iftar with their families and friends, or pray taraweeh in the Masjid, missing their cousins, and even school. While many people are following the SOPs and staying indoors, social distancing in a small gathering, many are not which has increased the number of Covid cases and death rate around the globe.

Our stores are running out of stocks, especially toiletries, hand sanitizers and food – a lot of food – causing a tantrum among civilians, especially the ones who can’t afford to buy a lot at once so they don’t have to leave their houses in such horror times every time they run out of home supplies.

The privileged citizens get to fill their Iftar tables with a variety of delicious food, whereas, underprivileged families don’t have enough to put on their tables and feed their children, or so bad that most may not even have water to break their fast with. To help those, many humble and down to Earth people came together to collect donations to giveaway free Iftar boxes that are full of different kinds of fruits, milk packs, juice, dates, and other eatables that are so dearly enjoyed in this month so no table is empty this Ramzan.

A very meaningful and rewarding act that will go a long way. As all of this is going on, many found a way to keep Ramzan interesting even in such times by vlogging their experience, especially reverts taking us through their journey, melting our hearts, and many were anticipated to cook surprising everyone in the house with this sudden interest. And while we are all living through this holy month of blessings and countless rewards, and making new memories, one thing is on everyone’s mind – Eid.

The celebration of Eid is one of the most anticipated times of the year which we get to celebrate twice a year. But Eid-ul-Fitr is the most loved among children, especially. The Chaand Raat is full of lights in every street. Everyone is out and about, enjoying street food while doing last minute shopping, getting haircuts, late night traveling to see their loved ones, spending the night decorating our hands with henna.

Sometimes our brothers taking part as well and decorate their sisters and mothers’ hands with their artistic skills. Husbands taking one for all and decorating their wives hands with henna, too. And when they are done being an artist, they get their beard trimmed and get other skin care done at the salon.

On the day of Eid our mothers, grandmothers, sisters daughters and wives wake up and prepare a variety of sweet dishes, such as Kheer, Ras Malai, Sohan Halwa, Zarda, and much more, where as our fathers, grandfathers, brothers, sons and husbands go for Eid prayer and return with Eidi – what everyone is most excited about – for everyone and big hugs. Families come together, forgiving any conflict, and celebrate the beautiful, loving festival together.

As that time comes closer, bazaars get crowded for Eid shopping. A common argument with the sales man as to why is a pair of khussa so expensive, and asking them to reduce it becomes yet another memory that we share with each other and our children in the future. Hands full of henna. Brothers and husbands spending the whole day reminding their sisters and wives that they decorated their hands. But this time, the crowd in bazar isn’t friendly. Instead it is an invitation to the virus, alongside with a lot of families packing up to spend Eid with their loved ones which is putting everyone in danger and increasing the risk for more Covid cases as well.

Despite full lockdown, a great amount of people are still out and about. Many cities are out of control. Many people are grieving a loss. Times aren’t as easy as before. While these people are out of common senses, a great amount of citizens are still following the SOPs and spending Eid indoors to avoid catching the virus and keeping others from getting it as well. Instead of leaving the house for Eid shopping, they have switched to online shopping, or simply wearing the clothes they have in their wardrobes that they either never wore or if they did then it was a long time ago. Obviously we cannot wear something that is seen before.

We love to keep things fashionable and out of the ordinary. And to top it off, a swing of eyeliner does it right. On the other hand, most men in our houses couldn’t care less. They can take out a pair of shalwaar kameez they wore a week ago and say, “Oh, yes! This is it”, with a proud smile, and pull it off charmingly. Especially with the fresh look on their faces, you can’t tell the shalwaar kameez they are wearing was worn not too long ago. Still enjoying the charisma and charm of this time and making the most of it.

Although we cannot go out and see our relatives this year, we all have them in our hearts. On the other hand, it is quite sad for our revert brothers and sisters who will be spending Eid alone since they are either living with their non Muslim families and have not acknowledged them about reverting, or they are away from their homes. As for those whose non Muslim families are supportive, will surely have a lovely time, giving their families a chance to get a look at what Eid is all about, unless they are living away as well. We wish our revert brothers and sisters all the best.

These times may be unfriendly and terrible for a lot of us, and for those we should all be praying for. Many loved ones have left us this year, and without them our dastarkhwaan feels empty and Eid does not feel like a homey festival we are all so used to. People who had a terrible time during Ramadan and are not able to do much for Eid this year because of mass unemployment and ungodly expenses, for those we pray that the doors of Rizq shall open soon.

Covid separated us physically but let’s all hope that our emotional connection grows stronger. Let’s pray that next year is safe and healthy for everyone. And that we get to celebrate Ramadan and Eid with our loved ones again just like old times, and make a load of new beautiful and humble memories.

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