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OP-ED: A very Covid Eid

  • Published at 12:38 am May 30th, 2020
Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

Many exercised admirable restraint during Eid celebrations -- can we keep it up in the coming months?

Eid-Ul-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan, one of the biggest festivals for Muslims, has just been celebrated this week. For almost all Muslims, the doom and gloom of the pandemic has taken the usual excitement out of Eid this year.

Coronavirus cases skyrocketed in Bangladesh recently. The number of confirmed cases has risen by more than three times, whereas the death toll has risen by more than two times in less than a month. There were 8,000 patients tested positive for Covid-19 on May 1, and in the span of 28 days the figure went up to 26,121, with 430 more deaths as of Tuesday.  

Given these alarming figures, it necessitated awareness and prevention for all of us as the world is still waiting for a vaccine to fight this pandemic. So the people of Bangladesh, other Muslim nations included, have celebrated a different Eid, giving up nearly all the traditions they used to bring in place every year.  

Even if people in our country are used to putting on new clothes during Eid-ul-Fitr and giving gifts to relatives, neighbours, and others, coronavirus has broken down this tradition this year. Because very few shopping malls that were open before Eid appeared to observe safety measures that were set by the government for the re-opening of the crowded malls. Sensible people mostly stayed indoors so that Eid shopping would not expose them to the virus.

Najmun Nahar Mokta, an assistant teacher in the public education system in Bangladesh, stated: “I don’t want to be a virus transmitter for my family and neighbours, so I did not visit shopping malls this Eid, and it’s the first time in 25 years when I didn’t gift anyone during the festival.”

Jahangir Hossain, a banker in City Bank Ltd, said: “People should realize there are positives; for example, I am glad to save money and not overspend this year by going to unnecessarily expensive restaurants.”

Although it is traditional for the people here to rush to their native towns from the capital to celebrate Eid with nearest ones, the novel virus didn’t let them follow the same custom. Travelling at this panicked time was not favourable at all. The enjoyment of Eid would have disappeared if anyone got infected.

Most remarkably, hugging, handshakes, public gathering were normal until last year’s Eid. But considering the deadly virus, people could not help but skip those century-old traditions of Eid celebrations in order to flatten the curve of the virus infection. 

Shajan Miah, one of my professors working at the BBC, opined: “I could never imagine we would have to abstain from hugging and handshaking on Eid; I would certainly want to forget this colourless Eid.” 

Moreover, Bangladeshis are well-known around the globe for their hospitality. Nevertheless, individuals, for the first time, didn’t visit their friends, neighbours, or relatives this year, solely because the risk of carrying the virus while returning home cannot be brushed aside. 

Muntasir Ahmed, my colleague at the British Council, explained: “I struggled staying indoors rather than visiting my siblings and nieces this year due to the catastrophic virus. I tend to be a big traveller, travelling is a lot of fun for me.” 

Admittedly, carelessness, heedlessness, and defiance of government and medical experts have already led many to withering melancholy. However, we thank those who considered limiting their Eid celebrations as part of their awareness, as the world is drowning owing to the coronavirus spike. 

Pinky Sanwar, a sports journalists and presenter at News24, noted: “We did not aim to enjoy ourselves during this Eid; instead, we tried to protect ourselves during these tough times.” 

We will survive these dark days, and prudence in limiting our Eid celebrations was exercised to guarantee and protect our happiness in the future. Likewise, let’s abide by quarantine and physical distancing directives to keep limiting the spread of the highly contagious Covid-19 like we curtailed many Eid rituals and customs this year, for our greater betterment. 

Mahde Hassan is currently working at the British Council as an invigilator.