Celebrations may be different but traditions remain the same


  • Nation
  • Sunday, 24 May 2020

Closer than ever: Hafizzudin and his family in Shah Alam celebrating Hari Raya with relatives living in Kuching, through a video conference. — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Separated by state lines and travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, video calls are the only way Malaysians can see their loved ones face-to-face this Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

It is how Mohd Hafizzudin Masuut, 32, will be communicating this Raya with his youngest brother and their mother, who are both at the quarantine centre at Sarawak General Hospital after testing positive for Covid-19 in late April.

As his mother and brother battle the virus, Hafizzudin’s family is also grieving for their father Masuut Norawai @ Norani, 61, who succumbed to Covid-19 on April 1.

“My mother’s test results just came out – she is still positive.

“My brother, who recently tested negative, continues to be quarantined at the hospital for 14 days, ” said Hafizzudin.

In total, nine people in his family, including relatives from Hafizzudin’s late father’s side, tested positive for the virus; four family members are currently still at the quarantine centre.

For this Raya, Hafizzudin, a maintenance supervisor at Petronas who lives in Shah Alam, will just have a small gathering with two of his siblings.

“We will call our family members in Sarawak via video.

“Raya feels very odd this year. We had such joyful Raya celebrations as a family in Sarawak in years past, ” said the second of five children.

Hafizzudin remembered Masuut as a taciturn and firm but affectionate father, a doting grandfather to his three grandchildren and an active member of society.

“He always did his best to fulfil his family’s wishes, ” he said, adding that his parents were both retired civil servants.

For salesperson Sirajuddin Nordin, 49, what he would miss most while celebrating Raya in the new normal was meeting family members, sharing hugs and pressing palms on the special day.

“This year’s Raya will be very different and everyone is deeply affected, ” he said.

Sirajuddin, who lives in Sepang, now uses video calls to exchange Raya greetings with his relatives in Ipoh, among others, as interstate travelling is barred.

“This is Raya in the new normal. I will have my in-laws visit my house during Raya but there won’t be many of them, of course.

“They are also concerned about the virus and we will all be taking precautionary steps.

“We’ve already reminded each other to avoid hugging and pressing palms as much as possible, ” he added.

Raya this year is also being celebrated amid an economic downturn as many Malaysians grapple with uncertainties at the workplace.

Sirajuddin, who works at a vehicle dealership, said his workplace could not operate for months during the movement control order (MCO) period and while he had returned to work recently, it has not been the same.

“We could not operate for months during the MCO period so employees were put on leave and we recently started returning to work.

“Raya is also different this year because we got only three days off at work compared to a week in previous years.

“Anyway, it’s okay to get only three days off because we can’t even celebrate much, and we can’t go freely wherever we want to, ” he said.

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