Coronavirus: Malaysian Muslims devise novel ways to celebrate Aidilfitri

Mr Ahmad Afif Zainol's raya banner on his front gate has a disclaimer that his family is not accepting visitors. PHOTO: COURTESY OF AHMAD AFIF ZAINOL

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian Muslims are preparing to celebrate a novel Hari Raya Aidilfitri against the backdrop of a pandemic, unprecedented in its scale and impact throughout the world.

Unlike normal times, everyone here is masked and the shaking of hands, let alone friendly hugs, are taboo.

"My siblings and I already made a goofy e-card that wishes people Happy Eid, but it also says that we'll all die if social distancing is not practised. I hope that's enough to keep people away," joked technician Ahmad Izz Hazriq.

"But on a more serious note, all my family members are planning to take the Covid-19 test since all four siblings are planning to visit our parents' place in Alam Impian, Selangor. We have a schedule, we won't be going simultaneously as we want to minimise the risk," the 26-year-old said.

He added that the family members were planning to have dinner together via a video call.

On May 10, Malaysia extended a movement control order (MCO) to June 9, although with some restrictions eased, including the reopening of almost all businesses in the country.

The government also allowed small gatherings, of up to a maximum of 20 people, for festive celebrations such as Hari Raya Aidilfitri but restrictions on travel between states and the traditional annual exodus to hometowns continues to apply.

As of Tuesday (May 19), a total of 3,212 vehicles were turned back by the police after drivers and passengers failed to provide a valid reason for wanting to cross state borders.

The family of Ahmad Afif Zainol, however, has decided not to take advantage of the easing of rules and gather for Aidilfitri for fear of their parents being in direct contact with asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus, which causes Covid-19.

"I have five siblings - all of them are married and staying separately, so it's just me and my parents at home. We've discussed and agreed to not allow any visitors during Hari Raya as both of my parents are heart patients, but we will be sharing our (respective) raya dishes with our immediate family members via delivery services.

"And to avoid surprise visits from relatives, we also have a raya banner up on our front gate but with a disclaimer that we're not accepting any visitors at the moment," the 29-year-old insurance agent said.

Kindergarten teacher Mas Eliya Ahmad has decided to cash in on the times, celebrating with coronavirus-themed iced cookies and a personalised face mask to go with her new clothes.

"I've always been in charge of raya cookies but due to the pandemic, it's not easy to get baking supplies with the long queues. But I am determined to make the most of this year's raya... by ordering and serving my family with 'Covid cookies', they're so cute and colourful!

Covid-themed cookies by home-based baker Nur Yursila Mat Rani. PHOTO: COURTESY OF NUR YURSILA MAT RANI

"And who says raya should be boring just because of the outbreak? In keeping up with the festivities, I will also be wearing my songket face mask," said the 26-year-old, referring to a traditional woven fabric worn by Malays.

The brainchild of home-based baker Nur Yursila Mat Rani, the Covid-themed cookies she makes come in various shapes and sizes, including that of personal hygiene products.

"I started making Covid-19-(themed) cookies for fun before sharing them on Facebook, I didn't expect many people would be interested in them and started placing their orders," the 37-year-old budding entrepreneur was quoted as saying in the Malay daily, Berita Harian, on April 12.

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