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May 23, 2020

An altogether different Eid in coronavirus times

Islamabad

May 23, 2020

Islamabad : Eidul Fitr is right around the corner but things are altogether different in the run-up to the post-Ramazan festival this time around due to coronavirus-induced restrictions, infection scare and squeezed incomes.

Women shoppers may be seen push their way through the rush in bazaars after the easing of over a month-long shutdown but many complain about a lack of the traditional festivity.

“Eidul Fitr is an occasion of great fun, especially the last week of Ramazan, for us [women] going shopping, visiting beauty salons and doing some munching outdoors. However, that’s no more the case as there’re restrictions on life, there’re fears of virus transmission and above all, the spending power of many of us has squeezed during this prolonged [COVID-19] crisis. The general air of festivity associated with Eid is evidently missing, now,” Farhat Yasmin, a housewife, told ‘The News’.

The opinion of Falsafa Khan, a young visitor to Islamabad’s Centaurus shopping mall, was no different.

“We step out only for unavoidable shopping and that, too, at uncrowded places while using face masks and disposable gloves, and practicing social distancing. The shopping amid restrictions and virus fears appears to be a compulsion and not desirable,” she said.

She also feared that the Eid holidays would be dull and boring for being without the usual family reunions and due to the closure of parks, picnic places and eateries.

“Dressing up, putting on make-up and staying home with no guests coming in is how we are going to spend Eid. To me, it’ll be just another day,” she said.

Some women shoppers, especially youths, felt sad at the thought of missing celebrations on Chand Raat, the night ahead of the festive day.

“For women, the Chand Raat has always been about the last-minute buying of artificial jewellery, bangles, clothes and shoes, having henna applied to hands, and some munching on the market but I regret that won’t happen this time due to restrictions,” Nasima Zareef said.

The shopkeepers complained about low sales during the year’s busiest trading days.

“You may see so many people in bazaars but most of them are window-shoppers. We really have a bad [business] season first due to the lockdown and now due to a significant decline in sales,” said Muhammad Mushtaq, a boutique owner in Rawalpindi’s Saddar area.

He believed that a squeeze on purchasing power due to coronavirus-induced economic impact had forced people to cut back on all but essential goods and services.

The businessman also said many women, who feared COVID-19, had opted for online shopping.