It’s safe to say that the pandemic has affected our lives tremendously; so much has changed, and so many new practices have been incorporated into our daily lives such as wearing a mask in public and maintaining social distance. We aren’t able to go to crowded places or meet our loved ones as frequently – as of right now social activity is detrimental to our health, and it’s important to be responsible. Hence, the way in which we spend holidays has also been altered – one such holiday is Eid-ul-Fitr. Last year we all experienced this holiday very differently, amidst a pandemic and a lockdown. Therefore, in the spirit of Eid-ul-Fitr, let’s reflect and see in what ways the celebration of this holiday has changed for us:
A Socially Distanced Eid
Eid has many traditions. One of these is to hug one another as a way of wishing one another Eid Mubarak. However, during the Pandemic this custom cannot be carried out due to the risk of possibly transmitting the virus to one another. Alyana, a 20-year-old from Karachi told us how she felt a lack of the Eid spirit last year and this year. She expressed that even although she got to meet her extended family, it felt somewhat odd to not be able to hug them or sit close to them. But she acknowledges as to just how lucky she is to even be able to see her family while practicing social distancing and taking other precautions.
Losing Loved Ones
Many lives have been lost during the Covid-19 pandemic and several of the people around us are still grieving. Even last year, rather than celebrating Eid, many families suffered as their loved ones were in the hospital. This is a reminder that we must do our part in ensuring that we practice precaution during the pandemic – it is the only way we can help in slowing down the spread of the virus.
Covid Positive on Eid
While some were fortunate enough to be able to spend Eid with their families at home, for some this was not the case. Those who had unfortunately contracted the virus spent their Eid in quarantine. Sarah, a 22 year old from Lahore, recalls receiving her share of the Eid food and dessert in paper plates outside of her room, as she was quarantined from her family on Eid last year. She expressed that while now she is thankful that she was able to fight the disease, back then she felt extremely lonely and depressed. Tariq, 27, from Islamabad tells us that he had covid on Eid last year and ate take-out food using paper plates with his wife who was also covid positive. Both of them recall bitterly watching Instagram stories of their friends and family eating an abundance of delicious Eid food.
Many Pakistani Muslims who were abroad last year when flights were cancelled and the airports shut down, ended up spending Eid while quarantining in a foreign country. Zeeshan, a Pakistani student in Australia, recalls how it was very difficult for him to be away from his family during Eid and Ramadan. The lockdown in Australia resulted in him being stuck there for months. Zeeshan spent Eid eating Pizza all by himself and re-watching Friends; his family back home in Karachi also felt incomplete on Eid without him.
A big part of this holiday is carrying out the Eid prayer in congregation. But last year, mosques were strictly not operating as per Covid guidelines. Some families took matters into their own hands and prayed in congregation at home with those whom they were living with. Losing out on such a tradition made Eid very different for many – Eid namaz is not only a way to welcome the holiday but also a means of meeting and wishing one another Eid Mubarak.
Many eagerly wait all year long for Eid shopping. During Chaand Raat shopping malls and baazars are overcrowded with people trying to desperately shop for their Eid outfits and gifts. But avoiding crowds right now is essential, so many responsibly choose to shop online instead. Sana tells us how she would go to the Eid baazars on Chaand Raat with her cousins and friends and get henna put on their hands while buying bangles to match their eid outfits. The hustle and bustle of Eid bazaars and hearing people bargaining with shopkeepers left and right, is something her and her family really miss about Eid.