CASABLANCA MOROCCO (AP) — Instead of mass prayers and large family gatherings filled with colourful clothes, gifts and traditional foods, millions of Moroccan Muslims celebrated Aidilfitri at home, subdued and isolated amid their country’s newly extended coronavirus lockdown.
The mood was somber for the normally joyous holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadhan, but also mixed with gratitude that Morocco’s brush with the virus has been so far milder than those in the United States (US) or Europe.
And Moroccan families found ways to make Aidilfitri special, as Muslims around the world adapted the religious festival because of social distancing rules and life under confinement.
In Casablanca, Morocco’s most populous city, where police tasked with enforcing the lockdown guarded deserted streets, 21-year-old Yousra Sandabad’s family greeted loved ones over video calls.
They cooed at a baby on a cellphone screen, as a breeze lapped the gauzy curtains, honey-laden sweets piled high on the table along with other traditional holiday treats.
Her extended family lives in several different cities across the kingdom and they would normally get together to celebrate Aidilfitri.
But her family has not had a guest since Morocco’s strict lockdown was declared over two months ago. She celebrated the day with just her parents, Afifa and Moustafa, and took a trip to their rooftop for a view of the city, the Atlantic Ocean, and Casablanca’s iconic Hassan II Mosque.
About 100 kilometres away, in Sale, Ghita Naoui and her sister Fatima shared a meal with their children as they watched TV and drank tea. Suhail, her nephew, an amateur music producer, worked on a new mix as his sister and cousin caught up with their friends via social media.
The virus was on many minds, but also hope that restrictions are relaxed soon. Morocco was early to order confinement, and has reported only 200 deaths and about 7,500 infections overall.
“It’s not how we imagined celebrating Aidilfitri,” Fatima Naoui said while cooking lunch for the family, “but we hope that by the next (major Muslim holiday), things will be back like it used to be.”