Ushering festivities in the new normal

Rokiah Mahmud

Muslims all around the world welcome the month of Syawal by celebrating Hari Raya Aidilfitri gratitude.

Brunei Darussalam welcomed Syawal on May 14, with a recitation of Takbir Hari Raya broadcast on television and radio, as well as at residences.

The Sultanate has marked more than a year of no local COVID-19 transmissions. However, the country still needs to comply with the standard operating procedures (SOP) and practise precautionary measures in curbing the pandemic affecting people globally.

The recent easing of public restrictions, under the 5th de-escalation plan, has allowed people to celebrate the joyous occasion by holding private events.

The long weekend allowed celebrants to visit their loved ones and share the festivities and catch up with each other.

Speaking to the Bulletin about the celebrations was Mohammad Aryan. For him, celebrating Hari Raya this year has been merrier compared to last year.

He said, “Last year, we just celebrated the occasion among family members residing under the same roof. We did not accept any visitors, as we were still wary of COVID-19. Mosques were not open to the public for the Sunnat Hari Raya Aidilfitri prayer. This year, even though we are still monitoring the COVID-19 situation, the vaccination programme is up and running. My family and I feel a bit more at ease when it comes to celebrating the occasion with our relatives and friends.

“However, since travel restrictions are still in place due to the worrying COVID-19 situation abroad, we are unable to visit our relatives across the borders.

“However, digital technology has allowed us to ease our rindu (longingness) by making video calls, exchanging stories and photos of our best Hari Raya outfits.”

Another to speak to the Bulletin was Siti Nadzirah, who said that the opening of Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Bridge has made it easier for her to visit family in Kampong Buda-Buda in Temburong District. “Alhamdulillah, the bridge has been able to reunite family members between districts. With the bridge, travelling has become more convenient, allowing us to save time.”

“It gives us an opportunity to introduce our children to relatives they had not met before.

“We also got to meet our parents’ siblings and strengthen family bonds,” she said.

Meanwhile, Nur Amal Nadhirah and her twin expressed their happiness that they could reunite and share the joyous occasion with their close and distant relatives.

“Last year, we were restricted in the number of visitors. With the current developments in the country, we feel so blessed and grateful that we are able to celebrate, albeit in new norms.”

In addition, Nur Delaila and her brother Mohamad Hakeemi expressed joy in being able to meet and visit friends as well as host an open house.

Still, Nur Delaila warned against carelessness especially when feeling comfortable.

For those who are unwell, such as showing symptoms of the flu, they need to exercise vigilance.

“As much as we want to celebrate the occasion, our health must remain the top priority. Stay home if you are not feeling well, bring along hand sanitiser and ensure that our hands are clean at all,” the siblings advised.

“Some houses that we have visited even provided hand sanitiser and a temperature checkpoint at the entrance!” Mohamad Hakeemi added.