An Anthology of Celebrations – Eid during COVID

There is something otherworldly about Eid mornings. Our new clothes lay on our
beds all night, awaiting to be worn. Food has been simmering in the slow cooker,
sweets and desserts firming up in the fridge to meet everyone’s mouths in the
morning. The night before is the most anticipated and exciting one all year.
The silent drumroll begins in our heads in Ramadan, a holy month for Muslims
around the globe. During the month of Ramadan, we keep fasts daily from sunrise to
sunset (yes, not even water). The month helps us reinforce our spirituality and brings
us closer to God, in addition to fostering community and helping us reconnect with
what really matters.
At the end of the month, we reward ourselves. On Eid ul Fitr, no one sleeps in.
Everyone is awake as early as possible to adorn themselves with sequin
embroidered dresses, henna, and sparkling jewelry. Together, our family attends the
Eid jamaat, where members from our community pray together in a big open field.
Herds of people follow us back home to eat all the food my mother had been
preparing for days. We feast on halwa, shemai (vermicelli dessert), and pani puris.
People stack more on their plates than they can reasonably eat, but still always finish
it by licking every corner of the plate clean.
We spend the rest of the day visiting our relative’s houses, embracing each other
and exchanging “Eid Mubarak!” and granting little kids “Eidi” (Eid money). By the
end, we are exhausted but feel fulfilled.
This year, Eid was like no other I had ever experienced.
Due to the pandemic, we had to cut back on many of the traditions and customs we
practice in celebrations. We didn’t attend Eid prayer, didn’t invite our friends and
family to our home, and didn’t get to embrace each other to mark the end of
Ramadan. It was tough at first, to cope with the reality that one of two of our central
and most anticipated holidays won’t be the same, but we made the most of the
circumstances.
Local mosques in Toronto hosted a prayer livestream on YouTube that we were able
to tune into. We facetimed our family all across the globe– from our neighbours who
live 30 metres away to our relatives in Bangladesh 13,000 km away. My family didn’t
cook in bulk this time, only preparing a conservative amount of food for the 4 of us.

Recognizing that people around the world were suffering the consequences of the
pandemic much more than we were, we redirected some of our Zakat (compulsory
charitable donation) money to pandemic relief efforts.
Even this Eid morning was otherworldly. It marked yet another end to a successful
spiritually reinvigorating month, although a little different than what is normal. Muslim
brothers and sisters around the globe tactfully and beautifully adapted celebrations
to show that our community knows no boundaries and celebrations are not just
physical– they are emotional. They are felt by the heart.

Author: Marzan Hamid

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