The Muslim fast this year has not been the same and, come Hari Raya, the situation is not any different than the fast due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO).
The question ringing in my mind is can online media save the day despite all the negativities associated with the online media technologies, ranging from spreading fake news to online love scam.
Fasting under MCO has put a lot of restrictions, especially the cancellation of the famous Bazar Ramadan which has been popular among Malaysians, Muslims and non-Muslims alike for years, during the fasting month.
Thanks to the Internet, eBazar Ramadan has replaced the physical bazaar, making it possible to buy the usual Ramadan delicacies online from the comfort of one’s home.
This has resulted in saving of time as one doesn’t have to drive to the usual physical bazaar which is always crowded with people from different walks of life, pushing their way through, in order to lay their hands on the buka puasa menu. Not only that, some Bazar Ramadan outlets do sell Raya biscuits and clothing.
That is not all. Buying of Hari Raya clothes this year has seen online boutiques and shops coming to the rescue as the MCO and CMCO only allow for limited movement coupled with the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet completely over. Thus, from the comfort of one’s home and at a click away, buying clothing online has become increasingly popular among people.
There has always been a hue and cry as to the negative social aspects of the Internet and social media in creating anti-social scenario among netizens. We are witness to scenarios where the use of social media has made those far from us closer and those closer farther.
This Hari Raya, the Internet and social media will surely be relied upon to get connected to family, relatives and friends who are far away from us as they can’t return to the kampung for the celebrations.
Connecting to Relatives
Using the various online technologies and applications will make this Hari Raya an Online Raya. Skype, WhatsApp video and other online video technologies are handy to be used to get connected during the celebrations.
Families can share pre-Raya celebrations preparation videos, especially baking biscuits, cleaning the house, including decorations and changing of curtains, with family members who couldn’t make it back to the village.
Meanwhile, videos of the Hari Raya celebrations can be shot on the Raya day itself. In addition, video calls using the various technologies can be made to connect family members in real time to wish one another and exchange family-related news.
Throughout the pandemic and restricted movement, with the help of online technologies, spirituality has been maintained if not increased. Short video clips and audios of supplications and religious information regarding Ramadan have been forwarded and shared across social media platforms.
More Movement of Parcels
Despite the gains made by using online media, one problem has become imminent over the weeks during MCO and CMCO. Courier companies have been overwhelmed by movement of parcels between states due to the separation of families, resulting in delays in delivery and even untraceable parcels creating unnecessary tensions and worry as these packages contain festive gifts and items needed for the celebrations.
With all the shortcomings brought about by the pandemic and subsequent CMCO, the online media technologies have indeed provided some relief in these trying times. As for the double-edge sword nature of the Internet, the good side has saved the day.
Whatever it is, individual creativity in maximising the use of the available media technologies will be the decider in making this Raya an enjoyable and memorable one as far as sillaturrahim is concerned.
Dr Ali Salman is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Language Studies and Generic Development, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK).
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