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Pandemic fear fades Ramadan festivity in Sudan

Sudanese take measures to prevent coronavirus COVID-19 inside a health center in the centre of the capital Khartoum, Sudan, on 15 March 2020 [faiz Abu bakr/ApaImages]
Sudanese take measures to prevent coronavirus COVID-19 inside a health center in Khartoum, Sudan, on 15 March 2020 [faiz Abu bakr/ApaImages]

Like all over the world, social distancing and lockdown due to coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic have affected festivities of the holy month of Ramadan in Sudan, Anadolu Agency reports.

In normal times, Ramadan traditionally meant social gatherings, breaking the fast at the sunset or iftar — breaking fast – together, packed mosques for late-night prayers and festive dining till early in the morning.

The onset of Ramadan also meant exhaustive shopping and reading the Holy Quran in groups and revive social contacts with families and friends.

Many Sudanese believe that they are witnessing an unfamiliar Ramadan.

READ: Sudan doctors warn against ‘collapse of health system’ amid coronavirus

Ahmed Hassan, 59, living with the wife and four kids said that the pandemic has negatively impacted the lifestyle of Sudanese during 2020 Ramadan.

We were used to sit outside at the iftar time, with all our neighbors, extended family members, and friends together.

“It used to be the only month that we got time to relax from the materialistic life and enjoy the spirit of Ramadan” he said.

His wife Awatif Abdul Hamid, 43, said the custom-like going together to markets and preparing special Sudanese cuisine and drinks during Ramadan seems a thing of the past.

“We used to cook together special Sudanese traditional food like (Aseeda) and the drinks like (Hilumore). We are missing this because of the virus. We hope better times will come soon, “she said.

Like Muslims elsewhere, Ramadan is also time to contribute a part of wealth to charity. A Sudanese businessman told Anadolu Agency that he used to distribute thousands of food bags and other materials during Ramadan.

READ: Sudan’s health minister says country needs $120m to fight coronavirus

“We used to distribute food, clothes, and other material. But this year we are afraid that the distribution point may become dangerous points as a large number of people may gather, “said the businessman, who wished to remain anonymous.

He said to circumvent the pandemic, they have decided to cooperate with big organizations to donate online. The organizations and the Social Development Ministry will distribute it, using their resources.

Work doubled

The Minister of Labor and Social Development Lina Alshiekh said her work has doubled this year for helping daily wage laborers and distributing charity among poor.

“Our work is doubled as we have to collect the charity and distribute it, instead of the people coming to take it. It is hard times for the poor who cannot go for work,” she added.

Banning of gatherings that also meant to allow prayers in mosques split Sudanese.

Many people like Mohamed Suleman, 45, called it an unnecessary restriction.He said people in Sudan usually do not pray in mosques during Ramadan but in open spaces.

READ: In Sudan the death of the defence minister amid the coronavirus pandemic increases social and political tensions

“The government should have taken responsibility in providing food and stop the long queues in front of oil stations and bakeries, instead of stopping people from offering prayers in mosques,” he told Anadolu Agency.

But others are defending this decision. Ahmed Sir Alkhatim said it was imperative in Islam not to endanger the lives of people.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Shaza Osman, the psychologist said while social distancing had already negatively impacted the entire world, it had more effects Sudan, where people were used to living together in their houses and loved gatherings outside.

She said people will miss this phenomenon more during the month of Ramadan.

“The Sudanese are very emotional people. The social distancing and lockdown will impact them during Ramadan. So one of the tasks for the Health Ministry is that after the COVID-19 crises, they will need to provide psychological health care to people, “she added.

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