Celebrating Ramadan during the COVID-19 lockdown Ramadan is marked around the world by social and religious gatherings, with loved ones coming together for iftar, the breaking of the fast. Many people increase their attendance at mosques during this holy month, and congregate for longer prayers for taraweeh and qiyam. Some people also stay at their local mosque for consecutive days and nights for prayers during i’tikaf, the last 10 days of Ramadan. You can find out more about Ramadan by reading our handy guide here. Ramadan during the Coronavirus This year, Ramadan arrives as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, when social distancing measures are being observed the world over, aimed at reducing transmission by minimising interaction between people. These social distancing measures, most especially restrictions on movement between and within communities, the closure of mosques and the restriction or banning of public gatherings, will of course have an effect on the practices which are usually central to Ramadan. The World Health Organisation has released new guidance, including health advice for social and religious practice and gatherings during Ramadan. The guidance recommends virtual alternatives to be used where possible and, where social gatherings are proceeding in person, to take careful considerations and follow specific mitigation measures on top of the existing hygiene advice. These include: holding events outdoors with fewer attendees; urging at-risk people not to attend; adhering to physical distancing measures between attendees; using personal prayer rugs over carpets; and using individual, pre-packaged servings of food for iftar. How are people celebrating Ramadan this year? Many of our staff members are navigating Ramadan this year during social distancing and lockdown. We spoke to a member of staff from our Head Office in Kabul, to find out why Ramadan is important and how her family will be celebrating this year. Ramadan is a peaceful month, and a month of togetherness, celebration and happiness. We pray more, we fast during the day and each evening we prepare different kinds of dishes (for example Aay Khanum, Pakawra, Mantoo or Bolani) for Iftar. We spread out our big table cloth and everyone in our family comes together and sits down to pray before breaking the fast together. This year, Ramadan will be different - there will be no gatherings and people are not able to go to the mosque for the prayers. My advice to others in the same position as me, is to try and stay positive during these difficult times. Let’s take this as an opportunity to pray more and concentrate on our faith more, whilst staying home and staying hopeful. Recipes for Iftar, the breaking of the fast In a culture ingrained with hospitality and sharing meals, celebrating Ramadan during lock-down does not come naturally. But that hasn't stopped our staff cooking up some delicious meals for their families. So we're sharing some of our staff's go-to recipes for breaking the fast in their homes - Bolani and Aay Khanum are popular choices for iftar, and our current firm favourite following a heavy meal is Firni, a light, delicious custard - give these dishes a go and let us know how you get on! How will you be celebrating? Got any family recipes you'd like to share? Get in touch and let us know - we'd love to hear from you. Ramadan Mubarak! From everyone at Afghanaid, Ramadan Mubarak! We hope you and your loved ones have a peaceful and happy month, and are able to mark the holy month with your loved ones, whether that be in person or virtually. More information Read more about our response to COVID-19 in Afghanistan, put your time at home to good use and get involved with our At Home Heroes, or give the gift of hope to Afghans who are struggling at this time.