JEDDAH: Saudis’ deeply ingrained and dearly held tradition of sharing food has continued during Ramadan despite coronavirus fears, albeit cautiously.
Fatimah Ahmed, a 53-year-old housewife and mother of four, told Arab News that she has shared food with the janitor “as he lives alone and doesn’t have a family that cooks for him during this special time of the year.”
She said the concept is not only about sharing food, but sharing joy and God’s reward as well.
Afaf Filemban, 50, told Arab News that she has shared food with her neighbors “because I feel like it increases bonds between people and brings out the affection in them.”
Summaiya Ezmirli, a Syrian expat living in Jeddah, said her family shared food only from mid-Ramadan as they were very cautious at first.
“We observed the neighbors and how careful they were, so we decided to start sharing our food with them,” she told Arab News.
Ezmirli said her family still supports social distancing, but sharing food with trustworthy people while keeping a safe distance is different.
“We make sure no one comes in direct contact with each other. We just hand over the tray of food and greet each other,” she added.
Ezmirli said the circumstances are hard but people need to make the best of every situation, and sharing food during Ramadan is part of the holy month’s charm.
“We can’t go to our families and have iftar parties — neighbors are all we have in this situation,” she added.
Amal Abbas, a mother of five from Makkah who lives in Jeddah, said she is making the dessert dibyaza, which is usually prepared prior to Eid, and delivering it to friends.
“Of course this is just for close friends who didn’t get to buy dibyaza, or don’t know how to make it, or don’t have the patience to do it,” she told Arab News.
“I made sure to sanitize everything and put the dibyaza in tupperware. I also gift-wrapped some bukhoor (incense) as a gift.”