THIS Hari Raya Aidilfitri is different from all other Hari Raya seasons.
Since the Covid-19 outbreak began, and the subsequent movement control order (MCO) was imposed, Malaysians have been slowly learning to cope with what has been described as the new normal.
Still, adjusting during times of cultural and religious significance like today, when families traditionally come together, will not be easy.
The Health Ministry has strongly advised us all to remain at home during Hari Raya, and even small family gatherings have to impose social distancing rules. We will not see the usual merry crowds frequenting open houses or children going from home to home in cheery groups.
But the spirit of Hari Raya is one of love, family and friendship. And that will always remain, regardless of the situation.
It is in this spirit that we must do what we can to protect those that we love.
It will be difficult for those who cannot balik kampung, especially when they have elderly relatives. While it may appear counter-intuitive, know that by keeping your distance, you are showing them your love and affection because you are prioritising their health and safety.
Although this Hari Raya will undoubtedly be muted, there are still some things we can do to keep traditions intact. While we may not be physically present to bond with siblings or carry out the yearly salam maaf-maafan (greeting and asking for forgiveness) with parents, we can still share the festivities in different ways.
Some homes are decked with bright lights, their tables spread with favourite dishes – rendang, ketupat, kuih semperit and pineapple tarts. People will be wearing their best baju Raya for the obligatory family pictures with pets in tow – and for sending digital well-wishes to friends. We at The Star look forward to lovely pictures on our social media feed and will be sure to “like” every single one.
There might be fewer duit raya packets for the kids, but we hear that e-wallet duit raya is all the rage this season.
And perhaps this year will see more creative ways in which Malaysians use teleconferencing to make sure every family member gets to give their personal greetings.
It’s a different Raya but we’re sure Malaysians will rise to the occasion with wonderful ways to spread joy and the spirit of family and forgiveness in whatever circumstances we face. We can do what we can to keep the festive ambience going while keeping each other safe.
Let’s do this together and work hard to fight Covid-19 in this crucial time so that once the MCO is fully lifted and the pandemic is no more, we can finally spend time in person with all our loved ones. Selamat Hari Raya!
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