It is frustrating but at least we all get to live.
Rabat – When the Ministry of Interior announced a nationwide lockdown to contain the spreading coronavirus in April, Moroccans hoped that life would return to normal by Ramadan. The second lockdown extension, announced only a few days ago, leaves no doubt that Eid al Fitr will be different this year.
Moroccan families will still get to listen to traditional Andalusian music on national channels, they will be able to parade in their traditional outfits at home, and children will resume their standard annual argument about wanting “rfissa” or couscous for lunch before their mothers veto both. At the same time, Moroccans will have to let go of cornerstone festivities that usually mark Eid for Moroccans and Muslims around the world.
Eid prayer at the local mosque
Freshly showered and wearing their neatly pressed jellabas, Moroccan observers look forward to mosque prayers every Eid. After a month of pious fasting to rekindle their devotion to God, practicing Muslims head to the mosque first thing on Eid morning. But this Eid prayer, just as with Ramadan’s Taraweeh prayers, will be held in the safety of worshipers’ own homes.
It is not just the group of people flocking towards the mosque or the lively greetings so early in the morning that will be missing. More importantly, this year will lack the public testament to an entire population’s unity.
Moroccans unite when they fast throughout Ramadan to empathize with the struggle of those less fortunate. They unite when they bake homemade Eid sweets and share them with their neighbours on Eid morning. They unite and bring closure to the holy month when they share their devotion to God as a single, uniform group during Eid prayer. However, they will not be able to celebrate this unity en masse.
There is some consolation, however, in knowing there is also unity in staying home to safeguard the elderly, the sick, loved ones, and strangers. In a way, perhaps staying home is also a type of fasting.
They are loud, noisy, and full of warmth and joy. These are typical Moroccan family gatherings on the day of Eid. Members wish each other blessings and health, while mothers scold their children for eating too many sweets and not leaving any for the guests. Then lunch is served and the day suddenly turns boring. It is the same tradition every year, but it is a tradition that families will have no choice but to skip this year.
Moroccans will have to celebrate with the same family members they have been confined with since mid-March, but hopefully they will be able to video call their loved ones and be as loud as the next Moroccan.
Adults’ appreciation for family gatherings during Eid does not compare to their children’s excitement. Kids not only get to enjoy play dates with their favourite cousins and all the extra food, but it is also one of their most lucrative fundraising days of the year. Uncles, aunts, parents, older cousins, and especially grandparents are all more generous than usual with doling out pocket money.
When I was a kid, I could save enough money on Eid to get me through an entire month of candy supply without having to do a single chore. If that is not a luxurious lifestyle, I do not know what is.
It seems children will lack liquidity during this Eid, but who knows—perhaps they can ask for retroactive gifting next year, with interest.
Many Moroccans have been strong and disciplined enough to stay home for the month-long festivities of Ramadan, and the two days of Eid, though unfortunate, should be fairly easy. Though it will be tough not to kiss our “milallas’” (grandmas’) and “basidis’” (grandpas’) hands this Eid, we will still get their blessings via video call.