A New Normal Post Hari Raya Aidilfitri in COVID-19 Social Isolation?

A Different Kind of Aidilfitri

Hari Raya Aidilfitri has just passed, and it was certainly a different kind of celebration compared to past years’. Globally, locally and individually, we are all dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. But how has the local community, specifically, celebrated the festivities, while still maintaining social distancing?

Scheduled Open House Visits and Zoom Calls

As Muslims celebrated Hari Raya Aidilfitri all over the world, there were plenty of instances where they have used techncxology to carry out the festivities in a unique way. And it is no different for us in Brunei.

Open house visits used to be a big, and often crowded affair. However, the regulations have ensured that social distancing measures are still kept during this time, which meant many found creative ways to still celebrate Hari Raya together.

One of our readers, Rennay, made the decision to schedule her open house sessions by putting friends and family in smaller batches. “Even during the pandemic, we still wanted to celebrate with them. And because of that, we had to think of a different way to celebrate while still adhering to the Ministry of Health’s advice on social distancing, so we thought of the scheduled open house sessions,” she said. “It was still lower compared to previous years, and we only celebrated with people who mean the most to us!”

Qeelah shared the same sentiment. “We had to RSVP and time our visits with one another. As guests, we had to be mindful of how long we spent at one place, and as hosts we also had to be polite and avoid groups clashing with each other. I also had a health station with temperature checks and hand sanitizer for safety measures.”

“The scheduled open houses were kind of a blessing, really,” Sarimah said. “Usually, you would have to prepare an infinite amount of food and sometimes that food would go to waste. Having a smaller group with a nearly exact number of people to expect helps to keep the waste to a minimum.”

We have also seen many social media posts where family members personally delivered the khutbah to their own families, in lieu of the imam in mosques.

Social media has been a great way to keep up the joy and fun of the celebration. The TikTok “Get Ready for Raya” trend by Bruneian, for example, is just one way to further elevate the mood in a new and exciting way.

@winachu44 Bruneian ladies dolled up for Raya 2020 ???? [part 1/5] ##fyp ##foryoupage ##foryou ##brunei ##asian ##twitter ##tiktokbrunei ##bruneitiktok♬ original sound – ✨winasarah✨

A Potential New Normal

As of May 16, the Brunei government began its de-escalation of COVID-19 restrictions, with the first phase seeing several premises beginning to operate in a limited capacity.  These premises will utilise the BruHealth application as they start operating again.

Mosques have also started opening again on May 29 after a 10-week closure due to the pandemic, with measures such as smart helmets to screen temperatures of worshippers. As the second phase of easing restrictions commenced on June 15, mosques, surau and prayer halls will also reopen for the five daily prayers in addition to Friday prayers.

The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports will also reopen senior citizen centres, museums, exhibition galleries and libraries, operating at 30 per cent capacity, while gyms, sports facilities, restaurants and cafes will be able to host more people at 60 per cent capacity. Market stalls will be able to accommodate up to 75 per cent of dine-in customers too.

This is a cause for celebration. However, we still have to be cautiously optimistic about the well-being of everyone around us. Even as Hari Raya has passed and regulations have relaxed slightly, there is a potential new normal that we must face.

In our digital era, we are fortunate to have our digital tools to allow us to feel our collected sense of “one-ness” even when we are physically far away from each other.

In the not so distant future, perhaps we can also use holographic technology to beam our relatives who are abroad into our living rooms. Using artificial intelligence and mixed reality, we will be able to interact with them as we connect together in the digital era.

No matter where we live, we will be able to connect with our community.

Technology will continue to grow as a significant part of our daily lives. As restrictions are gradually lifted, we have grown a little more comfortable with stepping out and carrying out errands such as grocery shopping as we once had. However, social distancing still needs to be carried out during these times.

For now, we have reminders everywhere, especially by the government to wear a mask and wash our hands frequently before and after shopping trips. We must also remember to be mindful of keeping our distance from other shoppers.




But one day, using robotics technology, we will be able to instruct our personal robots to buy ingredients, receive deliveries, and give us more time to prepare our meals. After mealtimes, these robots will help us wash dishes, wipe the tables, and curate memories in our virtual living rooms. Robots can do the grunt work for us while we enjoy the company of our loved ones.

We can also start looking at ways to help local e-commerce initiatives and shop online. If you are wondering how to shop online using Brunei’s e-commerce platforms, eKadaiBrunei just launched Brunei’s first online e-commerce directory featuring mobile-based marketplace Domo, mobile food delivery app GoMamam, online grocery stores KadaiRuncit and Weelago, and more.

Chances are, these businesses will expand their e-commerce platforms in the coming year as Darussalam Enterprise (DARe), prioritises its co-matching grants for businesses looking to expand into e-commerce and logistics.



A Post COVID-19 World

In our post COVID-19 world, it’s not just our Raya celebrations that will have changed. We have already started adapting to a new norm that has taken on a digital dimension, in the form of being more mindful of one another and embracing new technology.

Perhaps, this is our opportunity to create a new normal that will enrich our 2lives and the way we go through day-to-day activities with one another.

How did you celebrate Hari Raya this year through technology? Share with us your stories for a chance to be featured on our #storiesforraya column.