Saying that Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations this year will be different is almost unnecessary. We are living in the new normal, where social gatherings are discouraged – if not outright banned.
It’s called the new normal because experts believe that measures to counter the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus need to run for another two years. That’s two years of standing at least one metre away from other people, limiting public gatherings, and avoiding shaking hands.
Unfortunately, this also means that we may have to forego or adapt the traditions and practices we usually associate with the weeks and days leading to welcoming Syawal and the many weeks of festivities that follow. Fortunately, technology can help.
Pay your zakat fitrah online
The first thing Muslims do before the Aidilfitri prayers is to settle the zakat fitrah. Traditionally, this donation is done at the mosque and paid to an appointee from the state zakat body (called an Amil zakat).
This year, several state bodies have declined to appoint any Amil zakat as part of efforts to reduce the impact of the global pandemic. As a result, numerous online solutions have been introduced.
These cover the gamut of e-wallet transactions, web portals, Bank FPX, and mobile applications. The options available to you depend on which state you’re currently residing in, and we’ve compiled a list of e-zakat fitrah services for your convenience.
Hold Aidilfitri prayers at home
The status of the Aidilfitri prayers depends on your state religious body. Some, like Johor, have declared that the prayers will take place. Albeit with a congregation limit on only 12 people (including the imam).
While most states (at the time of this writing) have not yet decided on how to go about this, you can be assured that you will need to maintain social distancing. Which could mean that you pray at home, or will have to figure out how to stay at least two metres apart from your fellow Muslims in the mosque.
Have a virtual open house
While the conditional movement control order allows gatherings of up to 20 people at a time for celebrations, we may still want to avoid meeting people to maintain social distancing. After all, while new infections have been going down, there is a need to limit the risk of a second wave of the pandemic.
By now, people have gotten used to video calls to wish each other ‘selamat hari raya’; especially for overseas students who are unable to return home for the celebrations. So why not use it for everyone now?
You can even go the extra mile and connect a webcam to the television screen. The webcam will allow more people to squeeze into the screen at the same time, and also provide a wider view of your nicely decorated home. The television will give you a much bigger screen to make it easier to see the people calling you.
If you don’t have a webcam, there are also apps that allow your computer to use your smartphone as a camera. Most are paid but have free versions that will be good enough for your first virtual open house.
Naturally, you will want to have a stable internet connection to make this work. If the extended movement control order has taught us anything, it’s that home broadband is a necessity.
Do your Raya shopping online
Preparing for the celebration through the internet is nothing new for Malaysians. The numerous e-commerce sites hold annual sales to make the most of this time of year, and 2020 is very much the same.
However, the difference this year is that there may be a greater need to shop for your baju raya online. After all, we can’t all go out and pack into crowded stores to try on clothes while maintaining social distancing, even if the CMCO allows us to buy necessities.
Due to this, it is more important than ever to have the right rewards for online shopping. Take care to note which of your credit cards offer the best rewards or cashback for e-commerce.
Alternatively, if you don’t have a credit card, you can still get rewarded by using e-wallets to pay for online purchases. Lazada has its own e-wallet solution that offers limited cashback, and it also accepts the Touch ‘n Go eWallet as a payment option as well.
Unfortunately, Shopee doesn’t offer any e-wallet payment options as of yet.
Draw up and follow a Raya budget
It’s no secret that all of us are on tight budgets this year. So it’s probably a good idea to be extra strict this year.
Online shopping makes it easier for you to find good deals, and to compare prices. Both of which will help you stay within your budget. Don’t forget to use price filters to ensure that you don’t end up tempted by items that are outside of your budget.
You can also practice the ‘envelope’ budgeting method where you physically separate your cash according to what you need to buy. This can also be done with e-wallets by topping up only what you’re allowed to spend for that particular shopping trip (even if it’s online).
Finally, always wash your hands and stay safe
We are well on our way to beating this pandemic, but that’s no reason to relax measures for the sake of a celebration. News out of China has shown that a second wave of infection is certainly possible.
As such, social gatherings are still discouraged until we are able to find a vaccine for COVID-19. This includes avoiding visiting open houses or hosting people at our own homes. It may make for a less festive Hari Raya, but the health of the country is at stake.
This is the new normal. So, we might as well make the most of it and learn to adjust as best we can in these trying times.
How are you celebrating Raya in the new normal?
Tell us, in a photo on Instagram and Facebook about what it means to be together in the new normal! You’ll stand a chance to win an RM300 Lazada voucher, or an RM200 Netflix voucher.Find the full details of this contest here.