The festival of Eid al-Adha or Bakrid is being celebrated today, 21 July across the country. It is marked on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah (the last month of the Islamic calendar). This year, in India, the moon was sighted on the evening of 11 July hence the month of Dhu al-Hijjah or Zul Hijjah began on 12 July in the country. That is why, 21 July, the tenth day of Dhu al-Hijjah is being observed as Eid al-Adha.
However, this year, the fear of resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic after a drop in cases this month has forced the government to take stringent measures, casting a shadow over Bakrid celebrations.
"Sharing and giving are the spirit of this festival...It is a festival of friendship. A feeling of emptiness is in the minds of the people due to the COVID-19 pandemic," Panakkad Sayyid Munavvar Ali Shihab Thangal, a spiritual leader of a significant section of Muslims in Kerala, told PTI.
He said though the festivities will be confined to the homes of the faithful due to fear of spread of coronavirus, they would use the digital platforms effectively to virtually celebrate Eid with their near and dear ones. Thangal opined that one should take such an experience with a positive mindset as it gives them an opportunity to think about the difficulties being faced by people.
Eid al-Adha or the 'Feast of Sacrifice,' falls after two months and ten days of the observance of the Ramadan (Eid Ul-Fitr) which was celebrated on May 13.
Ramadan is celebrated after a month-long dawn-to-dusk fasting by devotees. "For Eid al-Adha also the devotees observe one day fasting on the previous day (today) as part of the observance of Eid festival", Rafeeq Rahmani, Qatheeb of the Sunni mosque in nearby Puthiyangadi-Chalil told PTI.
On the occasion of Eid al-Adha, Muslims sacrifice goats. Later, they distribute the meat among the needy, relatives, and community members. On this occasion, specials food items like biryani, sewaiyan, and other local dishes are prepared. Muslims offer special prayers ‘Eid Namaz’ at homes and mosques on this festival. On the third day of Eid al-Adha (it is a three-day festival in the Muslim majority countries) tomorrow, 22 July, the annual Hajj pilgrimage will conclude.
In India, this year, the celebrations will be subdued due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Various restrictions have been imposed by many state governments due to the expected third wave amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Gatherings in mosques have been restricted, with imposition of additional curbs like asking devotees to come for the Eid prayer in the morning after performing Vulu (cleaning) and to carry Musalla (prayer mats)"
In Delhi, devotees were seen offering prayers at Jama Masjid, Jamia Masjid, and Fatehpur Masjid. However, there were no mass gatherings due to the imposed restrictions. At the Jama Masjid, only a limited number of devotees were allowed to offer prayers.
In Uttar Pradesh, the slaughter of cows and camels on Bakrid has been banned by the government. Also, the sacrifice of animals in public places is prohibited. In the state, more than 50 people are not allowed to gather at a place on this festival.
In Andhra Pradesh, the government has asked people to avoid large gatherings. Also, no prayers will be performed at open places. Residents can offer namaz in mosques with only 50 percent occupancy at a time. Also, the state government has asked residents to follow social distancing and face mask norms. Khateebs and Imams have been asked to make the Eid khutbah (sermons) short. While devotees are requested to carry their own prayer mat while visiting the mosque.
In Kerala, the COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed from 18 to 20 July for Eid festivities. Shops selling clothes, jewellery, footwear, etc., were permitted to open. However, the Supreme Court has offered scathing criticism to the move given the high seroprevalence of coronavirus in the state. Only 40 devotees are permitted in mosques for prayers and with COVID-19 protocols.
While in Assam, a maximum of five persons including the religious head is allowed to offer namaz at a mosque. Public congregations are banned and the state government has advised all to celebrate the holy festival at their homes.