Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Self-Isolating During Hari Raya Aidilfitri? Try This Virtual “Open House” Concept

Hari Raya Aidilfitri has finally arrived. But much like in 2020, most of us will only be able to do so while practicing self-isolation. This is, of course, due the alarming number of local COVID-19 cases as well as the recently implemented nationwide Movement Control Order (MCO), which prohibits interdistrict and interstate travel and any form of gatherings – including Hari Raya open house activities.

Unfortunately for some (if not, most) of us, “balik kampung” is still something we can’t do. Especially for those who are working in different locations, away from our home towns or states.

Thanks to current technology, we could still celebrate Aidilfitri with distant loved ones through virtual means. These include via group-based video and voice calls, e-greeting cards, and even utilising virtual banking or e-payment for sending out duit raya. Just in case you missed it, you can refer to our previous article that was published last year on how to to celebrate Hari Raya digitally.

For this year, we would like to share with our readers another cool way to celebrate the occasion with your loved ones via video or voice conferencing, but with an “Open House” inspired twist. Similar to how it is done in real life, this concept allows you to create an open invitation to both family and friends, enabling them to “drop by” at anytime or at a preferred time during Hari Raya to catch up or to hang out.

So rather than visiting physically, these visits are done through apps such as Facebook MessengerGoogle MeetSkype, or Zoom. As most of us are aware by now, these applications allow users to organise multi-user video and voice sessions. But for this concept, rather than creating a session and directly inviting friends and family to join in, you’ll be relying on the “join/invite by URL” feature that are available on these apps.

Undoubtedly, I’m sure there are other applications and platforms that are capable of handling this as well. Just bear in mind that the three that I mentioned are just my personal recommendations, and are the best used to demonstrate this approach. It’s also worth pointing that these apps enable non-platform specific users to join in, sparing them from registering a new account just for the video/voice conferencing sessions. Due to the closed doors approach of Clubhouse, we won’t be including it or any similar apps in this article.

Moving on. Once you’ve created your session on one of the four aforementioned platforms, simply copy the URL and share it on your social media page (ie: Facebook) as an open invitation. For a more manageable virtual Open House, we highly recommend sharing your post to only close friends and family, and also set a preferred time frame for the session.

For example: “Doing an virtual Open House on <insert platform> from 2pm to 4pm! Feel free to drop and celebrate Aidilfitri together via this link: <your URL>!”

I’m sure you’re capable of coming up with a more exciting social media post than my cringe-worthy example, so do be creative. Accompanying your invitation with a Raya-themed photo or graphic would be a nice touch as well… as long as you’re not using Comic Sans as your typeface. Just don’t.

Whether you want to set your virtual open house session or your invite via social media to public is entirely up to you, especially if you don’t mingling with random strangers. But this is the digital age, and privacy as well as security threats are very real. So exercise caution if you still wish to do so.

Now, you may be wondering: why are we proposing this idea?

Well, firstly, there’s nothing wrong with direct calls to friends and family. This concept is to merely simulate the spirit of our country’s beloved Open House culture, even when we are unable to visit each other physically. The best part of an open house are often the surprise visits from friends or family, as well as introducing them to each other. We hope that this approach will be able to achieve that in a virtually way.

The only drawbacks, of course, are the lack of Hari Raya dishes for your virtual guests and the occasional lag that may hinder the overall experience. Unfortunately, there’s only so much that current technology is capable of doing, but at least it’s something.

Last but not least, if you are hosting a virtual open house or attending one, do dress up accordingly or nicely for it. It is for Hari Raya after all.

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