Even as Oman prepares to celebrate Eid al Fitr under tight COVID-19 restrictions, including a ban on congregational prayers at mosques and family gatherings, many are looking forward to enjoy the new experience with the same fervour and excitement with their nuclear families.
In pre-COVID-19 era, Eid was celebrated over lavish feasts at large gatherings at home with family and friends after early morning prayers offered in mosques. However, under the current restrictions that prohibit gatherings, most people in Oman will offer prayers at home and observe the customs of Eid albeit with much scaled-down arrangements.
“This year again, I will celebrate Eid al Fitr in a unique way at home with my family. Like last Eid, this time around too I have plans to make it a beautiful experience, even though we will miss the other family members and our friends. We will do all the usual things that we do like offer Eid prayers, have special meals and barbecue but all at home,” said Bader al Harthy, a government employee.
In Oman, the first day of Eid is generally reserved for visiting the homes of relatives and cooking ceremonial dishes like arsiya (rice made with chicken or lamb), while the second and third days saw elaborate preparations to make shuwa (meat cooked in an underground pit and served with rice) in the company of several family members and friends.
This year, however, it will be different. “Visiting relatives and wishing them a blessed holiday is a common tradition for Muslims during Eid. However, due to the pandemic, gatherings are no longer safe. For our family and our own safety, it is very important to consider our health first. People can celebrate remotely via phone or video calls,” said Muna al Zadjali, who is looking forward to celebrate Eid at home.
With the current situation demanding that we protect our loved ones by staying at home, authorities have urged people to avoid Eid gatherings, hugging and shaking hands as human contact is the key to coronavirus transmission, which to most is a new experience.
“I live in Abu Dhabi but my family is in Muscat, so I will miss joining them this Eid due to the restrictions. I will use different social media platforms to get in touch with my family and friends in Oman,” said Jamal al Nu’amani.
Ahead of Eid al Fitr, Royal Oman Police announced that it will ramp up vigilance in the wake of the pandemic by deploying units across all wilayats. ‘Citizens and residents need to continue to adhere to the decisions of the Supreme Committee and avoid the traditional practices of Eid, such as gatherings and family visits in order to preserve everyone’s health and safety,’ the ROP stated.