Festivities of Ramadan return as Covid-19 continues to ebb

ISLAMABAD: As the Covid-19 pandemic has been losing its grip on Pakistan, traditional festivities and cheerfulness of the holy month of Ramadan are back on track after almost two years, with people celebrating with sumptuous meals, special prayers as well as keeping the spirit of helping others and spreading happiness.

Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar, is the holiest month for Muslims around the world, in which adult Muslims fast from dawn till dusk, refraining from drinking, eating and smoking.

Citing the continuous decline in the number of fresh cases, the government has scrapped all the Covid-19 restrictions for the fully-vaccinated people across the country, including protocols for mosques, markets, indoor dining at restaurants, mass events, and sports and cultural activities.

The hustle and bustle returned to markets, shopping centres, restaurants and public places, said Ali Hafeez, a restaurant owner in Islamabad.

“Pandemic and ensuing restrictions have severely affected our family business as the government banned indoor dining, while only allowing us to carry on with our take-away and home delivery services, in which customers were not that interested due to the deadly virus,” Hafeez told Xinhua.

However, he said the sales have been seeing a positive growth recently, especially since the advent of Ramadan as more and more people are indulging in a variety of lavish food being offered at the restaurant to celebrate the holy month.

“This Ramadan proved to be a real blessing and happiness for me,” Hafeez said with a smile on his face.

The changes in timings of offices, businesses and schools during Ramadan in Pakistan change everything as they open and close early so that people can have enough time to go home and prepare for the Iftar dinner to break the fast, said Umar Fayaz, a 40-year-old government employee based in Lahore.

“On normal days, I would have little to no time to spend with my friends and relatives due to my professional obligations, but during the month of Ramadan, I have an opportunity to see them more and share the happiness by having special Iftar feasts and prayers together as well as fun-filled conversations,” Fayaz told Xinhua.

He said the religious month feels so normal this time unlike the past two years as he can go out and socialize now without being much worried about the coronavirus as the government was able to control the spread of the infectious disease, while vaccinating the majority of the population.

“Pandemic was hard for everyone. We would hardly go outside unless it was very urgent … But now we can mingle with people […] We can go to mosques for congregation prayers this Ramadan by following standard operating procedures, which is truly a source of utmost pleasure for all of us,” Fayaz said.

As Ramadan is a month of sharing and caring, many affluent people and charity organizations across the country remained busy in distributing food, medicines and clothes to the underprivileged community.

Hamid Athar Malik, president of the Alkhidmat Foundation, one of the country’s leading charity organizations, said many poor people are not able to recover from the adverse economic impacts posed by the coronavirus.

“Covid-19 hit hard the lower strata of our society, especially labourers and daily wagers as they are even now coping with the loss of employment and lack of food. As responsible citizens, it is our moral duty to help people in need […] This Ramadan we are distributing ration bags among the deserving families and making sure no needy person is left out,” Malik said.

The collective efforts and generosity can reduce the fallout of the virus-induced economic instability and lessen the miseries of poor people, he said, adding that Ramadan is the month of the year when “our shared commitment to humanity outweighed everything else.”

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