Lamp (Fanoos)

Virtually separate, together in reality

A few months back when the current restrictions related to COVID-19 pandemic began, I doubted it will last until Ramadan began. Soon, it got clear that we are looking at social distancing being the norm for the near future. I was wondering what would Ramadan look like when stuck at home. I definitely thought it would be dull compared to the lively (and hectic) schedule of our typical Ramadan. It is typical for us to go to masjid three to four times a day every day during this month. Not going even once a day would be very–for the lack of a better word–weird.

Yet, that was the reality of our Ramadan this year. Ramadan, a month when we renew social bonds of all types, came during the time of social distancing. It dawned on us that this is going to be different and we have to make the best of it. And us Dawoodi Bohras, under the guidance of our leader His Holiness Syedna Aali Qadr Mufaddal Saifuddin, made the best of it. Indeed, it was well beyond our imagination so much so that I can’t fathom the words to describe my experience this Ramadan.

While every Ramadan we would meet friends and family from our city or just our locality, this year, we met the world. I saw people from opposite sides of the globe come together in a daily broadcast of our “gatherings” in a way never before. From Auckland to Ahmedabad to Atlanta, from Mumbai to Mississauga, from Singapore to Seattle, all reciting a single verse together or a line after another. I have seen several memes saying how we are all staying together by staying separate. I saw this every day in action.

We have community meals every Ramadan every evening for as long as I know. Indeed, we are now used to community meals being delivered from our community kitchens even the rest of the year. This Ramadan, we cooked every day at home. It brought me a new appreciation to all those volunteers who spend hours in kitchens every Ramadan. They make sure that when people finish their prayers, hot and delicious food is ready for them. Doing this at home every day made me realise the challenges, especially when sunsets are late.

This Ramadan left me with lots I could never have imagined possible for myself. A lot of those things are deeply personal to me and I wouldn’t write about them publicly. Yet, I couldn’t bear not to write anything. And while this post feels incomplete and will remain incomplete, it is my heart that is full. And that is what matters. For the rest, there is a video from Dawoodi Bohras channel to say what I could have said.






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