Dr. Priti Swarup
Two and a half years ago, I set my foot out of my own country for the first time and started my life in a completely new region of the world. What was new was the culture and the geography of the place, but what remained unchanged was the warmth and love we received everywhere.
And as I look forward to witnessing one of the most pious sacraments, the holy month of Ramadhan, for the third time in my life, that too very closely and with one of the most beautiful people around, I have understood the beauty and the very importance of the month in an even better way.
Any festival is an expression to celebrate the culture, the tradition and the glorious heritage a place carries with itself. The true meaning of any festival is to rejoice special moments and emotions of our lives, with our loved ones, near and far alike. They help us preserve and add a character to our social lives. They help us immensely in connecting with our roots and origin once again, and by celebrating together, we forget enmity and embrace each other.
A natural bond of love is created, and environmental harmony ensues. A festival connects the whole culture and gives it an identity — identity of belongingness, the identity of oneness.
What is special about the holy month of Ramadhan? Ramadhan is the ninth and the most sacred month of the Islamic Hijri calendar (the Arabic term Hijri means migration, signifying the Prophet’s movement from the holy city of Mecca to Medina). It is the month of fasting, spiritual reflection and prayer for Muslims. It is believed to be the month in which the Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him, revealed the Holy Quran. It is essentially the time of the year when Muslims all over the world enter renunciation of food, water, carnal desires and practise self-control, willpower, self-discipline, sacrifice, empathy and compassion towards those who are less fortunate.
The blessed month of Ramadhan encourages acts of generosity and compulsory charity also called zakat in Islam. Muslims pray together to become closer and reconnect to God.
This year, Ramadhan shall be different. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, this year it will be marked more earnestly. Al Misaharaty (traditional Ramadhan drummer) who wakes up people to have their suhoor before the dawn shall be silenced this year. Because of the ongoing lockdowns almost everywhere, large public gatherings shall be a straight no and the community event of breaking the fast iftar shall be restricted to the close family members followed by performing taraweeh (special night-time prayer).
Owing to curfews at many places, the population, in general, has tended to hoard and stock essential items ahead of the festivities. This year schools shall be shut and millions shall be working from home. Due to closure of mosques, the sermons may be live-streamed, and worshippers can pray from their respective homes. Be it an individual house or an entire nation, the decorations and ornamentation of the houses and streets through the display of crescents, stars and Eid Mubarak lightings across the followers of the faith shall be in full fervour and will be a delight to watch, I am hope.
The dire situation of the worldwide pandemic demands us to bring more compassion, more empathy towards fellow human beings, towards the ones who are less fortunate and come together to celebrate the true spirit of the festival irrespective of race and religion.
Let us pay our maids and workers in full, let us bring a smile on their faces by showing that we care; that we are there for one another. Let us resolve to provide food packets to the needy so that they too can celebrate the festivities. We also can encourage online donations for charitable trusts. Let’s eliminate hatred from our hearts and let us all work towards the betterment of mankind and be kind to one another.
And as the great Prophet (PBUH) once said, “The greatest jihad is to battle your own soul, to fight the evil within yourself ”. Let us purify our souls to the deepest and may the Eid this year be more reflective. Let us adopt the identity of oneness this year.
Ramadhan Kareem to all! (Dr Priti is a Human Resource Management expert. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org