Every year, during the end of Ramadhan, streets in major towns light up with people donning white and black. Sounds of drums (Mathuar) rend the air in towns as hundreds of Muslims move to and from mosques to mark the end of the Holy month.
This was not the case this year. Muslims celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr, a religious festival for breaking the fast celebrated across the world on Sunday in silence.
In normal times, there would be gatherings in mosques for Eid-ul-Fitr prayer services and meeting friends and families for feasts. This time round, mosques remained closed as gatherings remained banned to curb the spread of Covid-19.
The special Eid prayers - usually conducted in mosques or in parks – were offered within households as gifts exchanged online without much celebration.
A prominent cleric, Sheikh Hajji Ali, the Western region representative of Direct-Aid International, a donor organisation that supports Muslims across the globe directed all Muslims to observe the coronavirus guidelines as they mark the Eid-ul-Fitr.
“Muslims must comply with the regulations which include social distancing, washing hands frequently, use of face masks as we mark the Eid feasts,” said Mr Ali when he distributed food to 3,500 families in three counties in Western and Rift Valley regions.
Directed-Aid International, a Turkish donor organisation, donated 1,067 bags of maize flour to vulnerable families and flood victims in Kakamega, Busia and Trans Nzoia counties.
Under the Covid-19 restricts, people are not permitted to visit their relatives Eid festivities.
Other like visiting the cemeteries to pray for departed Muslim relatives were limited to a few as people needed to observe social distancing.
“People from the same household can go outside together but gatherings of more than two people from different households are prohibited in law,” advised Sheikh Ali.
Mr Omar Athman, the Imam of Sheikh Khalifa Mosque in Mumias said despite the Eid being an important time of the year for people to meet families and friends and celebrate the end of Ramadan, sadly, this year’s festival cannot be marked in the same way.
“As we celebrate Eid, please let us think about different ways of celebrating, for example making video calls with friends and family members. It is vital to stay safe and protect others while celebrating the special day,” he said.
He said the crisis called for sacrifices from everybody and urged Muslims to adapt the laid down anti-Covid-19 practices.
"As Muslims, we have met these challenges head on and just like we used technology for prayers and Iftar with family and friends throughout Ramadan, let us maintain the same during Eid,” he said.
He said the cherished charity of inviting friends and relatives to a get-together had become dangerous in this era of the coronavirus.
And the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) National Chairman Abdallah Ateka commended Muslims for their calmness during the fasting period which ended on Saturday. He urged them to keep praying for the nation and the end of the coronavirus.
Speaking in Kakamega town, Mr Ateka said Ramadhan is meant to instil contemplation of God and sweep everyone up into a communal spirit and urged the Muslims to keep up the discipline after Ramadhan.
“Let Muslims continue maintain hygiene, keep social distance and observe good behaviour like they have done during the fasting period. It should not end with the Ramadhan,” said Mr Ateka.
He urged the rich to support the needy during the Eid celebrations.
He said the thirty days of fasting are aimed at teaching Muslims best practices including tolerance and being mindful of the plight of others in the community.
“Even though the fear of coronavirus has blocked us from celebrating Eid in congregations, as usual, solidarity must be in order. This is what Prophet Muhammad did during the times of war. Covid-19 pandemic is like a war we are fighting globally,” said Mr Ateka.
He emphasised on good discipline as the way forward for every Muslim, saying it would attract more people to Islam.
In Kisumu, families had to do with restricted prayers and celebrations in their homes.
A spot check by Nation in Kaloleni and Manyatta Arabs was met by lonely streets as residents celebrated within the confines of their homes.
“It is unlike the faithful to hold such toned-down celebrations that normally starts with large prayers in expansive open fields or mosques and climaxes with friends and family meet-ups," said Sheikh Musa Ismail Hajj, Chairman Kisumu Muslim Association.
Mr Hajj said the association through support from Kuwait had donated foodstuff to over 3,000 people ahead of the celebrations to cushion them from the coronavirus pandemic aftershocks.
“We have also managed to buy clothes and shoes to 100 orphaned and vulnerable children," he said
He called on Muslims to continue praying for the nation. In Kisii, Muslims did not gather in Mosques and other praying grounds after government banned gatherings to curb the spread of covid-19.
According to Imam Ibrahim Noor who is in charge of Jamia Mosque in Kisii, Muslims in the region conducted celebrations in their homes.
“Normally, more than 400 Muslims meet to celebrate and spend time with the poor during this period but this year it was different since there were no gatherings” he said.
He noted that Muslims are law abiding hence they could not go against the government’s directive.
“We conducted door to door visitation where we helped the poor with foodstuffs that we had collected” he added.
Reporting by Shaban Makokha, Ondari Ogega and Benson Ayienda.