Zooming in on Ramadan and other socially-distanced spring holidays

Celebrations+of+religious+holidays+take+a+virtual+form+this+spring.+

pixabay.com

Celebrations of religious holidays take a virtual form this spring.

Charlotte Castle, Staff Writer

Potomac students have still found ways to connect with friends and families this month to observe Ramadan, Passover, and Easter. 

This past week, observant Muslims in the Potomac student body have begun to celebrate Ramadan, the most sacred month of the year in the Islamic faith. During Ramadan, which will be celebrated this year from April 23 to May 23, observant Muslims fast from sunrise until sundown to cleanse their soul. Traditionally, families hold Eid parties at the end of Ramadan to celebrate the end of their fasting.

“When Ramadan is over, we have a big picnic where we eat a lot of food after fasting the whole time and we talk about what we learned about ourselves and what we were most appreciative about. But this year, Eid parties probably won’t happen for health concerns but we’re definitely going to do a family zoom call. Although I do think the virus is impacting Ramadan and Eid parties, I don’t think it’s that bad because it’s nice to not have to go out every day, because now I can be alone and reflect on myself while I’m fasting,” said sophomore Samira Abbasi, a leader of the Muslim Student Alliance Club. 

  This year, however, many Muslims find themselves unable to go to the Mosque to pray due to the risk of close contact with others.   

“People go to the Mosque a lot, so there’s usually a lot of gatherings and the prayer Tarawih is said late at night and usually a lot of people gather for that. But, because of the coronavirus that’s not going to be able to happen. It’s going to be really weird since that’s a really big part of Ramadan,” said sophomore Iman Brin. 

Another student, sophomore Mina Bahadori, similarly chooses to fast during Ramadan, a common practice for Muslims during the holiday. This month Mina anticipates that it will be a greater challenge than in previous years because she is stuck at home, effectively surrounded by all kinds of food. 

“I really like fasting because you realize how much you snack and it makes you realize what true hunger feels like; after a few hours it goes away. It’s going to be hard to fast this year though because I’m home the whole time, so there’s not a lot to distract yourself with,” said Mina. 

Another holiday that was observed in a new way earlier this April was Passover, a Jewish holiday that represents rebirth and freedom. The holiday commemorates the biblical story of the Jews being freed by God from their enslavement in Egypt. Traditions include purging your household of chametz (any grain-based products that rise when they cook.) The week is also filled with important rituals and traditions, such as sharing a special seder meal with family.  

“In past years, all of my family from across the country would come together to a big, massive dinner that would start around noon and would end around 11 or 12 at night. This year, we did a virtual meal where everyone was on a zoom call, which was interesting with grandparents not knowing how to work zoom. But, it was nice because some of my international family was able to participate,” said freshman Bram Halpert.

Another important Passover tradition is afikoman, where the eldest member of the family hides a piece of matzah bread for the children to find. Although her cousins and grandparents are stuck in New York, junior Tess Weinreich has continued to participate in zoom calls with her family. 

“My favorite tradition is the afikoman, which is like an Easter egg hunt where you break off a piece of matza bread, which is the cracker-like bread that we are allowed to eat during Passover. Then, the oldest member of the family wraps a piece up in a special napkin and hides it and all of the kids look for it after dinner, and the first one to find it is celebrated. But this year, my cousins and grandparents couldn’t celebrate with us because they live in New York, an area that is pretty contaminated with the coronavirus. But, we’ve still been doing lots of holidays zooms, although my grandparents couldn’t figure it out,” said Tess. 

 

Easter, another holiday celebrated around the coming of Spring is known for involving the dyeing of eggs and Easter egg hunts, in addition to traditional meals.

To senior FOCUS leader Kelly Dewberry, Easter celebrations this year were quite different. 

“My family and I usually go to church every year, which we couldn’t do this year because church services were closed. We then would normally go to my uncle’s house for an  Easter egg hunt. But this year, my family watched a sermon on YouTube and that was nice because I got to be at home and together with family,” said Kelly. 

Similarly to Kelly, senior Caroline Otteni, another leader of FOCUS, also watched mass online, except this year she was not obligated to dress up as she had in the past. Even though she was apart from her non-immediate family, she still found time to celebrate Easter with her siblings and parents. 

 “This Easter for my family didn’t look very different. We almost always spend time together, and that didn’t change even with the coronavirus going on. We did watch church online, which meant that my family and I didn’t have to get dressed up like we normally would if we were going to a typical church service,” said Caroline.