A feeling from afar: Together yet apart we celebrate, we congregate, we hide, we fight
When I look across the pond, at a land far away, where my loved ones live, it seems further now than it has ever been before. “Together Apart” is now the chime whispered in the blowing wind. How do we make this happen? The New York Times in its very recent podcasts and articles on the coming together of people and holidays, is using the digital platform to bring together family and friends and making folks aware that together apart, we can continue to bring faith and love to our tables where stories of these special days and nights are shared and rejoiced. Almost the whole world has gone and will go digital for the Passover, Easter and Ramadaan celebrations and storytelling this moth and now.
On an aside, I am wondering, if it is a convenient thing that ‘Diwali”, the most celebrated festival of India, does not fall in the same time period as the other three major holidays. It may have in ways been convenient and as it comes to my mind, that ‘Diwali’ heralds in the New year for India between the months of October and November, and people pay their obeyance to the Goddess Laxmi, to shower abundance upon her believers for wealth and prosperity – in short, money. The most needed exchange especially in pandemics gone wild. Holidays is about money too and much is spent in celebrations that buy materials of happiness. This time round, the giving of monies and presents may not be by hand and hugs, but digitally transferred in some sadness and certainly, in despair of not being able to meet and gather around the table.
Many of my friends and family belong to all four of the above stated holidays of our faiths and today, I feel that distance very consuming to the point that I am unable to break bread with them or share a good story around delicacies and around ‘Egg hunts’, ‘Saders’, ‘Iftars’ and I wonder, come October, will I get to light up on fireworks at ‘Diwali’. At this same time,however, we in India, are in the middle of Harvest season, another joyous time and I am not sure how digitally that can be celebrated. With this said, we will soon be ‘Zooming’ with family and friends on the final days of these holidays to express as best as we can, our faith in love, life, and each other. I am reminded more now than ever, what it means and feels to not be able to touch, hug, kiss and tell someone unmasked firsthand, how much I love him or her. But I can do it digitally and so I prepare the process. First, let’s look at a few scenarios of those apart:
For Lovers distanced: the “Show me!” demand for intimacy will remain at a distance.
Digital solution: Post emojis of love actions. Messaging, podcasts, telecons and, perhaps, recordings of visual temptations, but that ‘touch’ will be sourly missed.
For Parents distanced: the “If only I can hold you to my chest” need for expression will remain an inward desire at best.
Digital solution:Face time, ‘what’s app’ for those who are digitally savvy. The gathering around telephones/ mobiles and talking to loved ones is still very popular, but the cooking, the caring, the laying of the fun and fare tables, the grandchildren, the storytelling will be a dream.
For Friends distanced: the “Let’s meet at my place!” demand for togetherness, parties, games, and unison in laughter, will remain 6 feet apart, to say the least, and the distance of a planned holiday in groups and couples will remain disbanded.
Digital Solution: Internet and all the avenues of virtual and non-virtual communication, soul sharing on Facetime, reliving times of “the way we were” postings , getting creative in doodles and 3D imaging and every tech savvy platform, forum imaginable, will be used to communicate, but, the ‘ missing Mom’s cooking’, the ‘ drinking happy hours and burps’ regardless of a religious holiday ( let’s be honest about that!), ‘ Buddy time pleasures’ and the ‘ simple joys of the after party chilling together’ will remain a feeling of ‘de ja vu’.
Being that we are in one of the most religious times that communally bring together the large masses of Christians, Muslims and Jews with the presence of these holidays , as said, what I feel most sad about is the gathering in prayer. I will devote this paragraph to prayer. For me , that moment , when we gather behind a clergy , a priest, a pundit or Rabbi or even Grandpa or Dad or Mom, whoever, maybe leading the prayer service, is anoverwhelming feeling of the power of faith and the hopes and benevolence we seek from the Almighty and this seems much more energized when we gather to do it in person with that same faith and love we hold internally.Now it mostly will have to be done in isolation.
Going Digital together in prayer may be a possibility , but from a distance , much in isolation and ‘switching or logging on’ to a prayer service, seems both strange, confusing and far removed from that ‘in person together we pray united’ feeling. Especially in these times, it is not what we needed. This, in my opinion, is yet another lesson in both regret and transformation of prayer. In my opinion again, praying in isolation and praying in celebration are two immediate needs of self-reflection in how we believe we can stay in tune with the chime ‘Together Apart’. Digitally speaking we must not forget that we must make our worship on digital platforms and create our new pews, our new tables, our new floors, and areas in the devices we have and hold in order to pray together!
With roughly half the world locked down, leaders in these religions with ancient roots, find themselves giving thanks to the internet. Keeping the holidays communal, will be a struggle, but the technology of streaming and hosting prayers remotely could and will still spiritually be uplifting. We as a people are constantly rooted in hardships and renewal and so the truth lights up in times like this, however, painfully breathes fresh meaning into these holidays. While this ‘Virtual renewal” via digital streaming and hosting will not be happy for everyone, the old saying, ‘ desperate times calls for desperate measures’, sees the digital calling to prayer as a tech savvy way to bring life and people together , something we must all be grateful for being able to do. Suddenly, isolation seems to have found an open door to walk through safely, free to have faith and love and express its unity in prayer and hopes for a safe and rejuvenated world!
So, in prayer I Touch a key!
Ask Alexa or Siri
Where the nearest congregation is to be
They will answer with a list of places
For the masses and all the races
Where to go and where to bow
Where to sing and where to shout
Together in prayer and service to all mankind
In sickness, death, and virus, we do bind
Digitally we can join in and make our wish
Once again empowered in prayer, in digital bliss!
About the Author:
Journalist, Writer, Orator, Senior Consultant, Leadership & Communication, Actor, Producer, Activist – An Empowered Woman in quest and fight for needed causes and campaigns. She is based out of both the USA and India.