The usual fervour surrounding Eid al-Adha celebrations was missing on Saturday in view of the coronavirus pandemic that has severely hit livestock sale for the festival of sacrifice and forced many to stay at home. For the limited number of faithful who gathered at mosques, prayers were conducted observing social distancing norms. At Jama Masjid in Delhi, people brought their own mats and avoided hugging.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended warm greetings on the occasion and hoped that the festival inspires the people of the country to create a “just, harmonious and an inclusive” society. “May the spirit of brotherhood and compassion be furthered,” he said. Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday extended his Eid greetings to people and hoped that the occasion will bring peace and prosperity to the society.
Jama Masjid and Fatehpuri Masjid in Delhi’s old quarters attracted a number of people for the early morning namaaz.
Shahi Imam Mufti Mukarram of Fatehpuri Masjid said, “People observed social distancing and wore masks in the mosque during namaaz.” “Eid al-Adha means Eid of sacrifices. We prayed for relief from the virus, peace and growth of the country and thanked the authorities to allow namaaz in mosques with precautions against COVID-19,” he said.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia greeted Delhiites on the festival. “Hearty congratulations to you all on Eid al-Adha,” Kejriwal tweeted.
In Kashmir, no Eid prayers were offered in major mosques and shrines as police enforced strict restrictions in most parts of the Valley, including Srinagar city. Police personnel made announcements early in the morning on public address systems, appealing to people not to congregate for Eid prayers as the threat of coronavirus was still prevalent in the Valley.
People preferred to offer Eid prayers at home — either individually or in small groups consisting of family members only, the officials said, adding, however, reports of congregation Eid prayers being offered in the mosques in interior parts of cities and towns have been received.
In Uttar Pradesh, weekend lockdowns imposed to to break the chain of coronavirous transmission, dampened the spirit of the festival. Imam of Lucknow Eidgah Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahali told PTI, “Only five people offered namaaz at Lucknow’s Eidgah. Most people offered namaaz at their homes and also did ‘qurbaani’ in their homes. Ninety per cent of people completed their prayers in the early morning itself. By and large, there was silence in most parts of the city.”
Markets in prominent areas of the state capital such as Hazratganj, Aminabad, Gomtinagar, Indiranagar, Latouche Road, Alambagh, Hewett Road, Aliganj and Gudumba remained shut. There was also less movement of people on the streets. In Allahabad, people offered namaaz while observing social distancing norms and prayed for the end of the pandemic.
The sight, smell and sounds of Eid were also missing in Kolkata’s Zakaria street, next to Nakhoda Mosque, which dons a festive look every year with numerous food stalls and gift shops dotting the road on the occasion. Bengal Imams Association president Mohammed Yahia said all 26,000 mosque committees in the state have been asked to allow 25 people to enter their premises during morning prayers. “We have asked everyone from the community to distribute sacrificial meat among the family members and close friends, and not to anyone else keeping in mind the present situation,” he said
Extending his greetings on the occasion Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar tweeted, “The festival inspires us to inculcate empathy, peace and universal brotherhood. Given Covid Challenge-Need to follow safety protocols-wearing masks, practising physical distancing in celebration.”
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also wished people in a Facebook pictorial post. The Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath (TNTJ), which has over 800 mosques under it in the state, had appealed to the members of the community to avoid congregation, as advised by the state government and support the administration in the fight against COVID-19.
“We asked our members to be safe and follow healthy practices during the celebrations. We don’t want the infection to spread. We even asked them to clean the places where the goats are sacrificed properly and strictly advised against public sacrifice,” M Ibrahim, state secretary of TNTJ, said.
“Coronavirus has affected the overall economy. Realising that many among us are unable to buy during this festival, we made arrangements to help reach food to the deserving. No one should go hungry during this festival,” he said.
The pandemic-induced lockdown had a severe effect on people’s livelihood, which was markedly visible in the lacklustre sale of livestock during the festival.
The owner of a goat farm in Tamil Nadu’s Kundrathur said sealing of state borders hindered procuring animals from the neighbouring states. “Prices have been high this time and sale is not brisk, as it had been in the past,” Nadeem said.
Mohammad Izhaar, a goat seller in Delhi’s sarpine market near Jama Masjid, said Bakrid has been insipid. Every year he sells around 15-20 goats on Eid al-Adha. This year, he has sold only four, that too at a loss. “It (the pandemic) has sucked the life out of us,” he said woefully. In a world without the coronavirus, the sale of goats would have fetched Rs 60,000 to Rs 70,000, but this year they were sold at half the price, Izhaar said.