How Malaysians Celebrated Ramadan Through the Pandemic
Before 2019, families would travel from every corner of the country to join their loved ones in celebrating Ramadan. However, when the pandemic struck, everything took a new twist. To curb the spread of COVID-19, the government established standard operating procedures (SOPs), including the movement control order (MCO) which effectively halted the tradition for many Malaysians.
Measures announced came just a few days before Aidilfitri, forcing millions of individuals to spend time in isolation. And while it was tough going in the beginning, the country has since found creative ways to keep the spirit of Ramadan and Hari Raya alive and help loved ones connect, thanks to technology.
Effects of the Pandemic on Large Celebrations
For a long time in history, Muslims around the world had to observe the holy month of Ramadan under strict restrictions. Malaysia was one of the first countries to be hit by stringent pandemic measures, including a state of emergency.
Unlike the past years when Muslims normally gathered in mosques to observe their religious rituals, during the pandemic, MCO requirements limited congregations. In the holy month, believers usually meet pre-dawn and at sunset to eat and break their fasts. This is always a communal affair hosted in mosques, especially for the poor.
In the beginning, the government banned all Ramadan activities, including charity tables and communal iftars. This was a measure the government took following a World Health Organization (WHO) advisory. WHO encouraged Muslims globally to use virtual alternatives for religious and social gatherings.
While bazaars in the month of Ramadan are always buzzing with traders selling commodities ranging from foodstuffs to drinks and clothes, the pandemic years experienced a significant change. The long-awaited period of booming business for restaurants and food outlets did not occur.
Generally, COVID-19 disrupted the social and economic life of almost everyone. The movement control order in the country became a threat to the wellbeing and livelihoods of many Malaysians.
Even people with stable incomes didn’t know what to expect. The pinch of the pandemic was further felt by the poor, who always hope for gifts in the holy month. While a few lucky ones were able to get presents in the form of cash from their loved ones, the majority only received messages of goodwill.
How Did Malaysians Face the Pandemic?
In tough economic times coupled with distracted social lives, people easily lose hope while concentrating on the negative side of a situation. But for every dark moment, there is always a crack that lets in light.
Amid the pandemic, Malaysians discovered various ways they could use to soften its effects. Some of these discoveries included a new wave of software and tools which enhanced connections between loved ones and made it easier to do business remotely.
Lockdowns and stay-at-home requirements meant that people could no longer visit their shopping joints during Ramadan. To counter this measure, there was the need to enhance online shopping and make it easier for everyone. This led to the development of virtual bazaars.
A virtual bazaar is an interactive platform that serves as an online marketplace for local traders and buyers. On this platform, you can see the galleries of different vendors and reach them via their social media accounts or video calls. This innovation was invaluable in supporting local traders while also ensuring a steady supply of commodities to Malaysians during Aidilfitri celebrations.
Video Conferencing and Zoom Calls
For a good part of the lockdown period, many people were confined to their homes, away from families and friends. To keep the spirit of togetherness alive, Malaysians resorted to using video conferencing software and apps. People who tried this technique for the first time found it extremely heart-warming.
Initially, video conferencing was only tied to large organisations and businesses. In the middle of the pandemic, this changed. Parents started using different video apps to connect with their children. Families living in separate households also stuck together despite being miles apart. Social interactions with friends without physical meetings helped cheer them up at such a difficult time.
Among the many video-calling apps, none shot to the limelight faster than Zoom. At the end of 2020, the app had already attracted 10 million daily users. By March 2021, over 200 million people were using Zoom to learn, work, socialise, attend celebrations, and observe Ramadan.
Are The Pandemic Trends of Connecting Set to Continue?
Will we go back to our previous norms? This is the question everyone is asking as the hope of winning the fight against COVID-19 continues to emerge. Individuals, organisations, and society are now focusing on shaping their future. The past and the present will determine what to expect as a nation.
Many of the recent technological inventions have been exceptional in helping the world overcome some challenges, including those that existed pre-pandemic. People have realized that they can learn without being in class physically and can buy products from the comfort of their couches.
Society could change forever because of the pandemic. The acceleration in digitisation and the use of technology will not stop any time soon. Individuals and organisations that scrambled to adopt new technologies will now regularly start using what has been effective to continue connecting with others.
Online shopping trends, such as virtual bazaars, have proved satisfactory among users. In fact, more than 65 per cent of consumers are promising to continue buying their products virtually. And while the country is looking to shift into an endemic phase, connectivity continues to facilitate ease of transactions and connections between families and loved ones.
Connect With Your Loved Ones Today Using the Most Reliable Technology
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