Eid Al Adha in UAE: Celebrate safely with virtual hugs, sacrifices
Dubai - There is really no excuse for the faithful to break the Covid-19 rules and regulations.
Say Eid and the first thing that comes to mind is a 'hug'. Much like Santa Claus illustrates Christmas and firecrackers light up Diwali, hugs usher in Eid. In fact, everything associated with Eid is social - handshakes, special congregational prayers, and a grand lunch/dinner with family and friends. However, with the world battling the Covid-19 pandemic that requires people's commitment to all precautionary measures, the festival of sacrifice - like everything else - will need to be socially distanced this year.
Typically, Eid Al Adha - which celebrates the Prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son out of unwavering faith in Allah - is a community affair. The day begins with a special prayer that sees thousands of Muslims stand together and chant what is called the 'takbeer'. After the prayer and a sermon, the faithful hug each other three times and proclaim 'Eid Mubarak' (have a blessed Eid). Children line up to receive their Eidiya - a special gift or cash - from the elders. Soon after, some Muslims proceed to abattoirs to sacrifice their animals to commemorate the Prophet Ibrahim's faith. The rest of the day involves family visits and gatherings.
This year, Muslims will offer the prayer at home and the takbeer will be broadcast over mosque speakers. Eidiya will be transferred via online banking or gifts ordered via e-stores. Hugs will be restricted to immediate family members or given as GIFs via social media messages. Sacrifice orders will be made via special apps and the meat home-delivered. Going out would entail all members of the family wearing a brand new mask along with their brand new clothes. Family gatherings and visits will go online.
This will not be the first socially distanced Eid as the Eid Al Fitr was celebrated in a similar fashion just a couple of months back. Though the UAE has successfully flattened the Covid-19 infection curve to a large extent, government officials recently stressed that wellness is "directly proportional" to the physical distance we maintain with one another. That means avoid gatherings and family visits. The authorities have reiterated such advisories for a good reason. Recently, 47 people of five families contracted Covid-19 after they attended weddings and parties. The problem with gatherings is that social distancing cannot be ensured and people avoid wearing masks 'since they are all family'.
As a Dubai-based doctor stressed recently, this Eid, we need to stay away from our loved ones so that we can be together for all the coming Eids. You can always catch up with your extended family via video calls. Virtual gatherings mean more relatives can join in from anywhere around the world.
Have you tried catching up over Zoom? I have and it is not all that different from 'real' meetings. With one of my sisters in the adjacent room, I have caught up with my other siblings in Ras Al Khaimah, and Sharjah, and our parents in India. We shared laughs and teased each other ... it was almost as if we were in the same room.
Avoid crowded places during the four-day Eid break. If you do step out, ensure you maintain a two-metre distance from your nearest neighbours so that you and your family stay safe from their germ-laced sneezes or laughs.
There is really no excuse for the faithful to break the Covid-19 rules and regulations. The UAE has seen several encouraging indicators when it comes to fighting the pandemic - including zero daily deaths three times in July - but officials have reiterated that residents' commitment is what will ensure sustained protection. Health officials have previously referred to "some reckless" individuals who flout the rules. Hosting a family gathering or not wearing a mask while stepping out will make you or me that 'reckless individual'. There are fines to dissuade us from breaking the rules, but commitment to precautionary measures is much more than just fearing the law; it's a "national duty", as UAE Minister of Health and Prevention Abdul Rahman Al Owais said recently.
With the only aspect 'social' about Eid this year being 'social distancing', there is one thing we can all do together: Adhere to precautionary measures to keep everyone safe.