If a great fervor accompanied the advent of the holy month of Ramadan in Morocco, the singular atmosphere and the joy felt during this period of meditation and piety is of different taste this year. And for a good reason, an "unwanted" guest came to disturb the spiritual atmosphere: “COVID-19”.
A rather disconcerting situation has compelled the Moroccan citizens to adapt their daily lives during this blessed month with the emerged health crisis, and to rethink their rituals in reality imposed by the state of emergency, the confinement, and social distancing.
In ordinary situations, markets and shops are invested by households to stock up on prized spices and high consumption products, essential for breaking the fast and preparing varieties of dishes that garnish the tables of fasting “ftour”. But, the spread of the COVID-19 and the drastic measures taken to combat this "planetary enemy" have changed the scene completely.
Indeed, these spaces, which buzzed before, experience today mixed activities as well as an intermittent influx of heads of households who, armed with their exceptional traffic permits and wearing their masks, come to obtain the necessities for this month of mercy in compliance with the health measures.
COVID-19 changes Ramadan trade activities
According to traders, the great rush is not on the agenda this year due to the pandemic, giving way to a noticeable slowdown in their activities affected by this health crisis.
Same applies for managers of small pastries who set to work to adorn their displays with all kinds of tasty and succulent traditional cakes (chebbakia, mkharqa, maqrout, selou and briwates among others), which are essential on the tables of the “ftour”.
The great crowds, which characterized this period, are no longer the same because of this situation induced by COVID-19. Nevertheless, several customers among the regulars opted for ordering these Ramadan delights online and have them home delivered in strict compliance with hygiene and protection measures.
For fathers, it is a Ramadan "like no other", but they are trying to adapt little by little to this situation which leaves no one indifferent, and are hoping to get out of this ordeal as quickly as possible.
As for the housewives, some of them indicated that because of the great time spent confined, they go about the preparation of homemade sweets, as far as the means, to the delight of the "locked-down" family, especially children.
Ramadan religious activities changed due to COVID-19
Besides, Ramadan is known with the quest for divine proximity with the intensification of religious activities and the mass convergence towards the mosques for the daily prayers and the "Tarawih" which punctuate the days of this month of repentance. Religious rituals, among many others, the faithful will not be able to perform in mosques, contenting themselves, despite themselves, to perform them at home alone or with families, pending the end of confinement.
This completely new situation is also affecting the rather exceptional animation which seized the Muslim citizens and this human and social heat which emanates from its various districts and alleys.
For many inhabitants, this Ramadan, in lockdown, will be remembered, with a less festive atmosphere than usual. However, people assured their full potentials to deal with this reality for the good and health of all.
For Muslims, no one could imagine, even for a moment that he may spend the month of fasting similar to this one, with a different atmosphere and deserted streets especially after the “Iftar”.
COVID-19 affects breakfast habits and examines people solidarity
This reality is hard to admit for young people who used to break their fast with friends in restaurants, cafes, or simply by the sea. Now, visits, meetings, or family gatherings are restricted and collective courses, that used to take place in a very warm, friendly atmosphere, are no longer available this month.
The indescribable atmosphere specific to the holy month of Ramadan, the buzz that characterized public spaces (restaurants, cafes, etc.) which did not empty even after the prayer of Al-Ichaa and the "Tarawih", as well as the walks along from the ledge, family meetings and reunions in public places and parks where you could wander, individually or collectively, in complete tranquility, have suddenly become mere memories awaiting the end of health imposed confinement.
However, the Moroccan society remains strongly aware of the need to make this month of Ramadan, even if it is lived in a very special way, a favorable occasion for a real "meditation" and "introspection" and to use this time to wisely, making sure to strengthen ties with the Creator and reconnect with the Qur'an and above all to come to the aid of people in need, who have been severely impacted socio-economically.
In this regard, a surge of solidarity, initiated at the local level since the start of this health crisis, continues to expand thanks to the multiplication of initiatives and the synergy of efforts of all the city's living forces (Authorities, civil society, donors, etc.).
Even that the confinement, COVID-19 obliges, has turned down the rituals linked to the month of Ramadan, the inhabitants are taking massive measurements to adapt themselves to this exceptional conjuncture, to strengthen the spirit of solidarity, and to consecrate these noble human values of mutual aid, commiseration, compassion towards the most deprived and emulation in the accomplishment of good works, values strongly anchored within Moroccan society.