After a month's fasting and prayers seeking forgiveness, protection and divine blessings from the Almighty Allah during the Ramadan has come the festival of Eid. It is an occasion for the Muslims in Bangladesh as elsewhere to offer their gratitude to the Almighty for enabling them to perform their religious duties during the month of Ramadan. And the prayers and festivities by sharing improved diet with family and friends, wearing new clothes, meeting people, etc are essentially thanksgiving to the Almighty for the divine bounty the devotee receives as a gift from Him.
But under the present circumstances, it is at this point the devotees need to stop and think. When the country is battling against a highly infectious and deadly Corona virus pandemic, the people must desist from meeting people, roaming about and gathering. There should be no congregations for Eid prayers as those would prove to be the major hotspots for the spread of the pathogen.Religious scholars should play their role to convince the public that the essence of Eid will not be lost if they follow these guidelines. As the prime minister has advised, people should observe the Eid from their home.
But are all the Bangladeshi Muslims holding high the real spirit of Ramadan and the Eid. Seeing the behaviour of the homebound holidaymakers, one wonders if they care about the basic tenets of their faith, let alone the lessons they should have learnt during the Ramadan. The sight of mindless rush and stampede to get on ferries and crowding there together touching one another does not speak well of them as sensible humans, not to speak of their being good devotees. As if there is no tomorrow! What hashappened to the virtue of patience and forbearance they were supposed to have learnt through self-denial during this holy month? From the way they are defying health guidelines to ward off the pandemic, it seems they do not seem to care about the deadly pathogen.
The madness must not be allowed to continue. If the rest of the population has to be saved, if the ongoing Covid-19 control measures have to succeed, there is no point watching the madness without doing anything about it. The government must put its foot down. A large section of the homebound people after reaching their country homes may become instrumental in triggering a third surge of the pandemic. The worst fear may come true if a section of themareinfected with the virulent Indian variants of the virus and go about tracelessly.
Clearly, all measures to stop those that have already left the city and crowding the bus and ferry terminals have failed. They will reach their respective destinations by fair means or foul.However, the government can at least keep track of and monitor the movement of the holidaymakers with the help of the administration and the local government leaders. If anyone of them is suspected of carrying the virus, immediate measures should be taken to put him or her in isolation, even quarantined. It all has to be done with an iron fist. In its application of the pandemic control measures the government can ill-afford to show mercy to a potential carrier of the virus. Similar measures of tracking, monitoring including quarantining should be strictly in place for the holidaymakers as soon as they start their return journey towards the capital and other urban centres.
We must accept the reality and be ready to celebrate the Eid in a different manner that is not traditional. Eid Mubarak to all.