These are the unprecedented days of our lives where routine activities have become extraordinary and regular celebrations have turned into unique experiences. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has made the world more virtual than real in many ways.
Eid al-Fitr is a happy occasion for Muslims as it marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Usually, the faithful celebrate Eid with congregational prayers, festivity, get-togethers and hosting large meals. The real fun of Eid was, however, missing all around the world owning to physical distancing and stay-home orders.
Qatar is home to millions of expatriates with the overwhelming population being Muslim. Under normal circumstances, the expatriates celebrate Eid with fun and fervour by having large family gatherings and outings with friends. But Eid this year was different. Being away from home and even from their families, many expatriates had to resort to social media and online platforms to stay connected and exchange Eid greetings with their loved ones.
Mohammed Redzuan is the president of Malaysian Association of Qatar (MAQ). He has been living in Qatar for a long time. “The outbreak of novel coronavirus has changed the life of everyone worldwide. It also affected the recent Eid festivities and celebration for me and every other Muslim. Since I am alone here in Qatar and family is back home, this is the first time after over 13 years I could not celebrate Eid with my family in Malaysia.”
Redzuan is, however, happy that he remained connected with his family via Zoom and Google Meet. “On the first day of Eid, I managed to connect via Zoom with my family and relatives greeting and wishing them Eid as we say and wish in Malay language ‘Selamat Hari Raya Maaf Zahir dan Batin’.
“The live video and voice chats with our loved ones give us joy, laughter and happiness. In addition, I am very fortunate that my neighbours, friends and colleagues sent me a lot of my favourite Malaysian goodies, cookies and food. Eid prayer was also done at home. Overall, the Eid celebrations were very unique and very different from previous years.”
Adeel Akbar, general secretary of Pak Art Society Qatar, has been a long time resident of Qatar. He has not seen such kind of Eid in his entire life. “Eid could not be celebrated with its full spirit. The coronavirus outbreak has already dampened all the activities necessary for preparing for the Eid – ranging from obtaining new clothes and gifts to organising large scale family gatherings. It is sad to say that we could not hug and shake hands with each other as we did not have traditionally large Eid prayers. Children could not visit to other houses to collect their gifts and Eidi.”
Adeel feels Internet and social media mitigated the sadness to a large extent as people could not meet each other while observing social distancing. “It is necessary to keep the distance. The Internet however made it easier for us to stay connected with our loved ones both in Qatar and back in Pakistan. I however hope the pandemic ends soon and we will be able to celebrate next Eid traditionally.”
Mohammed Habib Nabi is also a long time resident. He has been associated with different sports and community organisations of Indian expatriates. “This year due to Covid-19, Government of Qatar appealed to the people to take precautions and maintain social distancing. We should stay away from shaking hands and hugging. Eid was celebrated very quietly at home – just exchanged Eid greetings to nearer and dearer through social media platforms and get connected to each other by video calls and extend the greetings of Eid. I missed offering Eid prayer at mosque and meeting my friends.”
Hazim Hamza is the general secretary of Sri Lankan Community Benevolent Fund and head of community development unit of Sri Lankan Islamic Center Qatar. “This year the Eid was unique for everyone. We had to forego many celebrations, gatherings and happy moments within the community, friends and families. We missed the opportunity of meeting the community members in a common place after Eid prayers. We missed the family visits, outings which we look forward for every year during Eid holidays.”
Hazim, however, remained busy in extending a helping hand to his community members affected by the pandemic. “We had the opportunity of sharing the happiness with thousands of needy members of the community who are affected by the pandemic, by distributing Eid food packs sponsored by Qatar Charity. We are happy to have contributed towards the well-being of people in Qatar by being at home throughout the period and following safety guidelines provided by Ministry of Public Health.”
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