Farther but closer than ever for Eid celebration

MUSCAT: The Eid-al-Fitr experience this time will be like never before with more people being able to connect face-to-face thanks to a wide range of apps.

With people confined to their homes and social distancing has become the new norm due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the celebrations are different this year unlike in the past when Muslims would flock to mosques in the morning to perform Eid prayer and greet each other.

Also there are no markets to cheer parents and children. The traditionally-festive Eid mood is subdued. “We can still gather with our families and communities. There are a number of apps, offering numerous ways of bringing families and friends closer,” said Mudassar Raza, a virtual media expert.

Visiting relatives and wishing them is a common tradition for Muslims during Eid. And it is a festival that involves large meals with extended families and visits to the houses of relatives and friends.

According to Mudassar, social media platforms have an expanded network that helps families of all ages to continue to strengthen their bonds and keep each other updated online.

“Some of these platforms even share details of their daily routines including their attire, meals etc not only with family members but also with curious non-Muslim friends and colleagues. Individuals can celebrate with their family members and friends by through video calls,” he said.

Apps offer a level of communication that phone calls and text messaging simply cannot provide. Mohsin al Lawati, a banker, testifies it saying, “We have had good interaction with our family members and friends over Zoom during Ramadhan. We will continue to do the same during the Eid as well so that we keep in touch with others”.

However, many people whom Observer talked to said they are dearly missing the festival mood amid fears of coronavirus.

The absence of social interactions on Eid still makes a lot of people unhappy. “Eid prayers are supposed to be held in a congregational manner. At the same time, Islam also accords priority to health. So it is better to stay at home and pray to the Almighty that an Eid in this manner will never have to be repeated”, said Mubarak al Wahaibi in Ruwi.

Rashid Ansari, an Indian expat, said, “We missed breaking fast together and sharing our food with friends. Even though it saddens me, we have to adapt to safety and health guidelines”.

However, Mohamed Rawther, another expat, said he will exchange Eid greetings with his family members and other loved ones over social media platforms. “We should not make it a big deal not to celebrate Eid with our normal social interactions,” he said.