Eid in lockdown: A little less light, but lots of spirituality
At its very heart, Eid is about gatherings and festivities with loved ones. However, this year the celebrations have taken on an unusual dimension, given the restrictions of a lockdown in place to keep coronavirus in check.
The festival will, therefore, have to be celebrated very differently worldwide, away from the usual gatherings at the local mosque or the fun meet and greets with family and friends, and Indian Muslims in the UK are finding ways around the lockdown.
A time to reflect
For Hannah Mir, a key worker on the Covid-19 frontline, this will be her first Eid as a newly-wed.
“Spending Eid with my in-laws will definitely be a memorable experience. Although we cannot go anywhere, we are still able to spend this time with our loved ones. For me it is about remaining positive and remembering what Eid is exactly all about,” she says, holding on to the spirit of the occasion.
Hannah believes the pandemic has taught her how much she values her religion and family.
She says: “I have grown closer to my religion in these trying times. For me, praying at home, eating with my in-laws, and family has been lovely, and although restrictions are in place, Ramadan still felt like Ramadan.
“It makes you remember that Ramadan is a spiritual time, and I’ve been able to read Islamic books, work on my prayer, and have more time to reflect.”
Missing some light
Tayyabah Khan, a mehndi artist, recalls how in the weeks before Eid she would have a long waiting list of girls wanting to get mehndi done.
“But this year I will not be taking any bookings,” she muses.
As an avid baker, Tayyabah is using her creativity instead to bake and make delicious dessert packages for Eid celebrations this year.
“I’ve got a number of fun activities and games up my sleeve. My family and I decided to make the most of the weather and will be enjoying one another’s company in our back garden,” she says.
However, she cannot dismiss how starkly different this would be from how she has usually celebrated the festival.
“It is when you finish Eid prayers, and you hug everyone, everyone congratulating each other for getting through Ramadan – that ronak (light) this year is something that won’t be felt and is what I will miss the most,” she reflects.
Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) Secretary-General Harun Khan has an upbeat message for the community.
“Whilst Eid away from the mosques and our loved ones is unprecedented and will be a source of great sadness in communities across the country, Muslim communities will adapt and find the best way to still celebrate this holy day whilst aligning to the latest guidance,” he explains.
“Some will pray Eid prayers in families within their households, and virtual gatherings can be arranged to still connect with loved ones.”
Breaking the fast
As the Islamic holy month of Ramadan draws to a close, Muslims across the UK and worldwide will be preparing for Eid-al-Fitr, also referred to as “The Festival of Breaking the Fast” because it marks the end of the month-long dawn-to-sunset fasting.
Traditionally, on the morning of Eid, Muslims congregate for prayers in the mosque followed by exuberant gatherings and showering one another with gifts. While much of this may be constrained this year, the community is clearly not disheartened by it.
by Preeti Bali