Coronavirus impact: A quiet Eid in lockdown

Updated: May 25, 2020, 07:15 IST | Diwakar Sharma, Faizan Khan | Mumbai

Unprecedented economic collapse has hit festivities as community vows to shelve celebrations, assist less privileged instead

The crescent moon of Eid sighted at Sion on Sunday. COVID-19 has cast a shadow on this year's celebrations. Pic/Shadab Khan;
The crescent moon of Eid sighted at Sion on Sunday. COVID-19 has cast a shadow on this year's celebrations. Pic/Shadab Khan;

The lockdown has cast a shadow over Eid-ul-Fitr festivities. Many members of the Muslim community in Mumbai have decided not to celebrate the festival that comes after a month-long fast during Ramzan. Instead, they have decided to help poor, needy families with food and new clothes for their kids. It is also said to be the first time in Islamic history that Muslims will not congregate to offer Eid namaz, to adhere to the norms of social distancing.

Muslim scholars too, have urged people not to celebrate Eid this year, in solidarity with migrant workers, who have been the worst affected in the lockdown.

Afroze Ansari, a tailor in Kurla, has tried hard to help his 20-member staff. Pic/Atul KambleAfroze Ansari, a tailor in Kurla, has tried hard to help his 20-member staff. Pic/Atul Kamble

"Eid means happiness. But how can we celebrate Eid when people are dying in this pandemic? My heart goes out to all the bereaved families. It is painful to see the pathetic condition of migrants who set off on foot from cities over hundreds of kilometres, to reach their hometowns. Several have died before they could reach their destination; others are starving and parched enroute. Hundreds of others have died in this pandemic," Ibrahim Tai, president of Muslim Council Trust told mid-day.

'No gathering for prayers'
"I urge all Muslim families not to celebrate Eid this year, instead, affluent families must come forward to assist those who cannot afford two square meals in this lockdown," said Tai, who lives in Pydhonie. He has not purchased new clothes for Eid.

Shabina Shaikh's children are asking for new clothes, but she has no money to feed them, let alone get them anything else
Shabina Shaikh's children are asking for new clothes, but she has no money to feed them, let alone get them anything else

"For the first time in Islamic history people will not congregate for Eid-ul-Fitr prayers, and will not hug each other due to the pandemic. This is what Islam says to stop the spread of the disease. In the history of Islam there were many plagues reported, but they were in specific areas. Now the entire world is under lockdown. I request my Muslim brothers to offer Namaz-E-Eid at home, help the poor and ensure that none of your neighbours are starving," said Mufti Manzur Ziayee.

No money for meals
For many Muslims, celebrating Eid is not even a possibility as most are struggling with having two meals a day. Shabina Mehboob Shaikh, 35, who stays with her six daughters, son and husband in a rented house in Kasaiwada, Kurla is among them. Her husband worked as a helper at a tea stall in Kurla and hardly earned R300 a day. Shabina used to work as a maid but the lockdown has snatched her means of income.

A masjid light up with decorative lights at Mohammad Ali Road on Sunday. Pic/Ashish Raje
A masjid light up with decorative lights at Mohammad Ali Road on Sunday. Pic/Ashish Raje

"Everyone is locked in the house. We have nothing to eat. The children have been crying for new clothes to wear in Eid. I have no money to purchase ration to feed them, how will I purchase new clothes for them? The landlord is asking for money," sobbed Shabina while talking to mid-day.

Afroze Ansari, who runs a tailoring shop in Kurla, has tried hard and managed to help his 20-member staff. "My staff members too wanted to go to their hometowns but I requested them to stay back in Mumbai because it is not wise to set off on foot to reach Bihar or Uttar Pradesh. I managed to convince them and have been providing ration to them," said Ansari, who has also sent money orders to the relatives of all the karigars (craftsmen), so they can celebrate Eid.

Adam Sheikh, Andheri resident
Adam Sheikh, Andheri resident

Helping others
But Ansari and his family have decided not to celebrate Eid this year. "We are not celebrating Eid this year but the children are too little to understand and had been insisting on new clothes. When I was going to purchase clothes for my children, the kids in neighbourhood looked at me with hope. It was a painful moment for me. I purchased new clothes for the neighbourhood children too. The smiles on their faces were priceless," said Ansari, who has also been distributing Iftaar among neighbours.

A fashion designer, Sanjay Karnani, said during the Ramzaan month all his karigars used to be very busy but this season is dry. So he came up with the idea of starting a campaign, #CareForKarigars, where he declared an online sale with certain discounts. The Muslim community came forward to buy the garments just to help those karigars in this difficult situation.

Andheri-based Adil Ali said, "Every year me and my friends visit each other's place to have shirkurma and biryani, but this year we have planned to distribute the same to people who are in dire need of food. My mother said that she will cook vegetarian and non-vegetarian biryani and sheera. Me and my friends will pack them in containers and distribute them to the needy among the community and this will be our celebration of Eid.

'Simple celebration'
Many people are also choosing to go for a simple celebration. Shirin Mulani and her family stay in a posh locality in Kandivali East. This year too, the family observed the rozas. But due to the lockdown they were unable to get good fruits. "The best quality of fruits are crucial for sayri and breaking the roza in the evening, but due to the pandemic nothing much could be done. We used to purchase fruits that would last us for a week. We have been following social distancing and all the instructions given by state and central government and this year we plan to celebrate Eid in a simple manner. We are feeling bad that we won't be able to meet friends and family during Eid. We will offer the Eid namaz at home and feel all our brothers should also celebrate in a simple way and avoid gathering," said Mulani.

Adam Sheikh, a resident of Andheri East, is also celebrating in a simple manner. "We have observed the month of Ramzan and fasted, but this year we made sure that we strictly followed the guidelines given by the government because this lockdown is in the larger interest of people. We stocked food items and fruits that would last us a week to 10 days. This year we won't be able to go out and celebrate Eid and we have decided that at home too we will celebrate in a simple manner. We will use video calls to exchange Eid wishes," said Sheikh.

Inputs by Samiullah Khan and Ranjeet Jadhav

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