Dubai: As Muslims ring in Eid Al Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice, the fervour and spirit of the celebration is a tad subdued this time around, owing to social distancing norms in place. Traditional celebrations, they say, have made way for a more practical approach, where safety will take priority.
Emirati Abdulla Kazim Hassan Al Asmakh, 38, says Eid is always a very special occasion.
“Usually Eid celebrations are done in large gatherings. But this Eid, we are meeting in small groups as per safety regulations set by the government. This year, we are also doing away with the tradition of Eidiya — or cash gift to children. And of course, we are wearing masks during our small gatherings. The traditional hug and greeting is not be there. No hand-shaking either. Yes, this Eid Al Adha is sure different from last year and those we have celebrated in the past. But we are still grateful that we are able to celebrate it in the best possible way.”
Syeda Bushra Ali, 37, Pakistani, a resident of UAE since 19 years, said the family is not going in for the traditional goat sacrifice. Instead they have given money to charity. “This is our way of taking precautions this year. Usually we do the sacrifice in our house in Al Ain. But just to be safe, we have opted out of this. We are happy that we can help with a charity instead. There are no plans for us to have a party or invite large number of guests either.”
Sri Lankan expat Yoshita Ahmed, married to Pakistani Ghufran Ahmed, said she too is not doing the sacrifice in the UAE this time owing to the social distancing protocols in place. Instead, she and her husband plan to do some charity for the needy in Pakistan. “We are not going out or celebrating on a large scale. We are being practical about the celebrations this year. Our relatives are in Abu Dhabi but we will not visit them. Instead we will wish each other on Zoom. Times have changed and it is the digital world. I cannot believe that we would be in a situation where we are wishing relatives online.”
Ebtehal Mohamed Reda, 38, Egyptian, living in the UAE for the past 15 years, said it has always been a tradition to wake up at 6am for the Eid prayers and follow it up with a big gathering at her sister’s house. “This year is different in many ways,” she said. “We won’t be able to visit the mosque and pray the way we used to do before. There are no big gatherings as well. But it’s still Eid and we will try and keep the spirit alive as much as possible.”
Ebtehal and her family have instead decided to get way for the long weekend to be on their own at a resort. “It is probably the best way to keep the social distance going.”
Indian expat Meghna Khan, who is celebrating Eid Al Adha with her husband, Muhammad Umar Khan and daughter Alishbah, could not agree.
“If the pandemic was not in place, we would have celebrated Eid Al Adha back home in India. It is also the school holidays now so traditionally we would have been with our family this time. But it is a different situation this year. It is a practice for us to do the sacrifice in India but owing to the safety regulations in place back home we are not able to do it. So instead we have opted to do the sacrifice in UAE. We will be meeting people in social bubbles rather than traditionally large gatherings. I am also doing away with a lot of the traditional food which I usually prepare as we will not have a large number of guests coming home. So yes, the celebrations are subdued, but the spirit will be nevertheless high.”