#MYStayHome: How Malaysians stay spiritual at home during the MCO


  • Malaysia
  • Friday, 20 Mar 2020

For many, prayer helps ease anxiety in times of crisis. Photo: 123rf.com

StarLifestyle is running an online series on what Malaysians are doing at home during the Movement Control Order period from March 18 to 31, and we would like to hear from you too! Tag us (@StarLifestyleMy) on your Instagram Stories with the hashtag #MYStayHome, or email your stories and pictures to lifestyle@thestar.com.my with #MYStayHome in the subject line.

Even before the recent movement control order (MCO) was enforced, most religious gatherings and events had been called off to prevent large groups of people from congregating in view Covid-19.

However, small numbers of people still met for discussions, prayers or scripture studies.

With the recent MCO announcement effective March 18, even those have taken a back seat.

But that does not mean spirituality has.

Financial adviser Hazel Ong, 47, is making full use of technology to continue her usual religious engagements.

“In fact, even before the MCO, our bible study group did an online study (via a video conferencing software) and it was just as fun and engaging, ” said Ong, via WhatsApp.

“The Catholic Church is also streaming mass online daily. My family and I have celebrated mass together a few times in a week. That in itself is more than our usual once a week, ” continued Ong, whose daughter Mary, 10, has also kept in touch with her aunts via WhatsApp video.

A special prayer session held during Lent via video conferencing involving Hazel Ong's (top, centre) church members. - HAZEL ONGA special prayer session held during Lent via video conferencing involving Hazel Ong's (top, centre) church members. - HAZEL ONG

Ong is also hoping to rope in more church members in her Subang Jaya neighbourhood to gather for special prayers during the current Lent season using the same video conferencing software.

“It is not easy convincing people to use video conferencing. It’s one thing to get them to watch the masses on YouTube, but to download an app on their laptop, smartphone or tablet needs a bit more persuasion. Hopefully, more members will join us for the special prayers next week.

“Those who did recently were quite happy though, as it still gave us a sense of praying together as a community, which is a powerful experience, ” said Ong, who has also used her time staying at home to spend more personal time with God.

Corporate governance senior management executive Anita J. sometimes follows her father to pray at Hindu temples in Bangsar and Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur. And when she travels overseas, she makes it a point to pray at temples, churches or viharas (Buddhist temples or monasteries) wherever she is. Although she isn't able to go to temples now, Anita believes that she can still cultivate her faith from her home.

Anita believes that praying to show daily gratitude is important. Photo: 123rf.comAnita believes that praying to show daily gratitude is important. Photo: 123rf.com

“I am more spiritual than religious. Faith does not need to be (practised) at temples; it’s internal, ” said Anita, 47.

“The power of prayer is great. I pray in the morning to show gratitude for another day and I continue with my daily night prayers before sleeping. It’s important to show daily gratitude and to pray to the Universe for healing, ” she added.

Anita also appreciates the fact that people seem to be more united now, focused on getting through the coronavirus crisis.

“It’s the first time in a long while that the world is united against a common enemy. I don't even think the Olympics has brought us all together like this.

“Humanity needs to come together for the greater good, ” she said.

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