Although we are celebrating the same thing, every Muslim family around the world has their own way of doing things. Every year, we begin our celebration by going to the mosque early in the morning – it’s been ice cold the last few years – and joining in a special Eid prayer. We hug and greet our brothers and sisters in Islam, and then we head home to prepare for the day. We dress in our brand new, never-before-seen-or-worn outfits. We decorate our homes with balloons and streamers – the decorations have been insane in recent years. It’s become a bit of a competition I think. But it’s all in the spirit of the holiday. Mum makes special meat kebabs/patties that we eat throughout the day. For a lot of my extended family, their favourite part about visiting us on Eid is eating those patties. Also, for at least a week prior, we prepare different kinds of sweets, some traditional, others not. Once we’re dressed, we prepare the sweets and the coffee and tea, and we wait for our guests.
And for the next ten hours, we have guests spilling out of our house. We serve tea and coffee and sweets a thousand times in the day, we take a million pictures, compliment each other on our outfits (that’s become a competition too), we catch up with people, a lot of whom we haven’t seen since the last Eid. It’s an exhausting day, my back hurts by the end for having to serve so many trays. I eat at least 20 meat kebabs, but am still starving by the time the last guest leaves. But we’re not done yet. We have to go and visit the grandparents. When my dad’s dad was alive, he’d be our first stop, and then we’re off to my mum’s dad, and at around 11pm, our last visit is to my dad’s sister. Sometimes my cousin’s will get pizza and we’ll end the night there, other times we’ll go home and get Maccas drive-through on the way.
Oh, I almost forgot – we also buy presents, but it’s hard finding time to actually give the presents throughout the day. Because – as you can see – we’re swamped. But sometimes we’ll do it at night, or the next day, or even the night before. It adds to the stress of the whole thing. But it’s fun.
Well... that's our usual Eid.
But things are different now.
Last Eid, the lockdown rules were that no more than five people could visit at a time. Two of my uncles came during the day, and then my other uncle came with his kids at night. That was all. It was the quietest, oddest Eid. This Eid is set to be even quieter. Victoria’s current lockdown rules doesn’t allow for any visitors. It’s only 9am, but already things feel different. We can’t go to the mosque, we didn’t make any sweets, mum didn’t even make the meat kebabs/patties. My uncle, who visited last Eid with his kids, recently contracted the virus and isn’t feel well at all. My cousin’s grandmother got pneumonia just a few days ago. Even Hajj, the pilgrimage we’re celebrating looks different – usually there’s be millions of people making their way there this year from all over the world, but that’s not possible. Instead there’s only 10,000, all from Saudi Arabia, who have to keep their distance. The COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing more and more each day in my state of Victoria. Masks are mandatory. Thirteen people died yesterday from the virus, the highest number yet.
Yes, things are different now.
I don’t know what the rest of today is going to look like, or the rest of this year, to be frank. Nobody does. We can plan for anything, predict things based on patterns and data. But the truth is, none of us know what’s coming. COVID-19 can stick around for another year – or more – or something as miraculous as this virus can come around and save us all.
WE CAN ONLY HOPE.
In the meantime, follow the rules, stay safe, stay home, keep your distance, and, for the sake of everybody around you, wear a damn mask.
Eid Mubarak to those who celebrate! Wishing you a happy day, a safe day, full of at least a little bit of sweets.