By Janica Maya (@janicamaya)
During the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak in many countries, people are encouraged to practice proper hygiene and cleanliness.
However, not all people view hygiene and cleanliness the same way, as different countries practice it in different ways. There may be some bathroom habits that may seem peculiar for us Westerners, or certain things we do that may seem odd to other cultures
As the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, it lead to toilet paper pandemonium.
People are encouraged to stay home during this time, so many stocked up on toilet paper and cleared the shelves of many grocery stores. Toilet paper has become one of the fastest and hottest selling items in the U.S and Canada.
However, panic buying toilet paper is not an issue for some cultures that use other alternatives, like the bath pail. It is a tool used in other countries such as the Philippines, where it’s called a “Tabo". The Tabo sits by the toilet, filled with water to wash oneself. Another alternative is the bidet, a toilet bowl with a spray found in some European countries such as Italy and Argentina. Similar to the bidet is the Shattaf. It is an attached spray used in many Muslim-majority countries. These countries found a way to reduce the need for toilet paper. However, some people adapted to the western-style bathroom habit of using both toilet paper and a bath pail or water spray.
Cleanliness is valued and fused into the daily lives of other cultures, such as the removal of one's shoes once entering a home. Asian and Middle Eastern countries adopt this habit as not only a form of etiquette, but to keep a clean home. According to Charlene Solomon: “Japanese culture, believes a clear distinction between inside cleanliness and the outside world.” Some Japanese homes have the Genkan, a traditional entranceway to remove one's shoes and change into slippers before entering into the rest of the home.
Washing your hands is a major form of hygiene in all cultures, but it is also practiced in different religions for ritual and symbolic reasonings. For instance, Muslims follow certain guidelines from the Quran on washing methods before praying. The procedure involves washing the hands, face, forearms, ears, nose, mouth and feet three times each. Muslims of all races, cultures and ages follow these certain habits.
Whereas, Hinduism emphasizes the importance of physical cleanliness by ensuring proper hygiene as a pathway to Holiness. Hindus are obligated to wash their hands and feet before entering any homes, temples, ritual places and before performing any sacred duty. Religion is an important contribution to proper hygiene and cleanliness. Enforcing certain hygienic practices demonstrates proper hygiene and cleanliness is embedded not only for health purposes.
The practice of hygiene and cleanliness is different in all parts of the world. It is important we practice these known habits to stay clean and safe in fighting COVID-19 together.
Stay safe, everyone.