Normally at this time of the year, our family would be posting photos and videos of us wearing the most colourful Hawaiian shirts we could find while shooting strangers with water guns. It is the time for New Year celebrations in our country, which consists of a number of traditions, one of which is a three-day water fight.
This year, which will come as no surprise to you, things are a little different as our country along with the whole world tries to control the spread of Covid19 within our communities and borders. The rule change around New Year came very early. On some levels easy. The holiday was simply postponed to some unknown time later in the year. No public holiday meant that people would not have the much needed time off to travel to family. The hope was the possible spread of the virus would be decreased. It was a wise and good decision by the leaders of the country we work in.
However, although the holiday might not exist, the actual rhythm of the season still keeps going. Many who follow the season, who count the full moons, know that this week is the week when certain practises must be done to gain merit, to appease the spirits and to ensure a successful year to come. Some might even think it’s more important this year with Covid19 lurking around every corner, on every surface and in the face of every stranger you meet.
So how does one balance two very strong forces that make you who you are? The need to go to the temple and perform rituals to gain merit for yourself and your family at the start of a New Year. The need to be at the feet of your grandparents and elders of your family to show respect to them for who they are in your family – YET – also the fighting force to be protective of those same people and keeping them safe from possible infection, adhering to new government regulations to stay home.
I am sure many of you in NZ will understand this tension after spending Easter weekend at home this year in your bubble, unable to do your normal Easter traditions. Maybe this past weekend posed more tension than the weeks before hand, as Easter held more need to gather with others, or to go to the bach or beach as you have in previous years. A tension that arose in you as you knew you needed to do the right thing, and yet there was a stirring in you that longed to do the other.
We are on the cusp of this week of celebration and to be honest we are unsure how the tension of the forces will play out here. Tradition over safety is such a hard tightrope to walk. We hope that all will walk the path of protecting their loved ones this year by staying at home and showing them the ultimate respect in this way.
Written by Roanna who serves in South East Asia with her family.