Millions of Muslims celebrated Eid-al-Adha or Bakri Eid on Saturday with piety and traditional gaiety across India, home to the world’s second largest Muslim population.
Both the young and the old thronged mosques big and small in hundreds of cities and towns in the morning for the main prayers on Eid-al-Adha, the festival of sacrifice.
Muslims came out early morning dressed in their finery to offer the special Eid congregational prayers at mosques and later hugged and greeted each other with ‘Eid Mubarak’ before setting off for the ceremonial sacrifice of goats.
Select portions of the sacrificial meat were distributed among family, friends, relatives, neighbours and other community members.
President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended their greetings on the occasion.
“Greetings to all my fellow citizens, especially to my Muslim brothers and sisters in India and abroad on Idu’l Zuha,” Kovind said in a tweet.
Modi tweeted: “Best wishes on Id-ul-Zuha. May the spirit of harmony, brotherhood and togetherness be furthered in our society.”
Muslims thronged the 17th century Fatehpuri mosque in Old Delhi, packing the redstone building’s corridors and balconies and also the many roads and lanes around it.
“People gathered in large numbers to offer prayers at the mosque. We prayed for communal harmony and progress of the country,” Mufti Mukarram Ahmad, Imam of Fatehpuri Mosque in Old Delhi, said.
Similar scenes were replicated all across the country, from Jammu and Kashmir in the northern tip to Tamil Nadu in the deep south and from Assam in the northeast to Gujarat on the west coast.
Eid prayers were held peacefully in Jammu and Kashmir as people exchanged warm greetings with each other, barring some incidents of sporadic clashes in the valley.
Large Eid gatherings were held in Hazratbal Shrine, Eidgah grounds and other places in Srinagar city and also in Baramulla, Kupwara, Ganderbal, Anantnag, Badgam, Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian districts.
Reports of sporadic clashes between stone pelting youths and the security forces came in from Anantnag and Sopore towns. Police said the clashes started after the Eid prayers.
Muslims in Hyderabad, Telangana and in the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh offered Eid prayers and sacrificed goats or cattle commemorating the great sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim.
Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and Governor of the two states E.S.L. Narasimha Rao greeted people on the occasion.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje too greeted people on the occasion and thousands celebrated Eid in Ajmer where the Dargah Sharif of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, also known as ‘Garib Nawaz’, is situated.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath tweeted his good wishes to people on the festival. Namaaz was held in many places like Lucknow, Agra, Kanpur, Bijnore, Moradabad, Rampur and Kanpur where members of the community prayed for peace and prosperity.
Eid Al-Adha is celebrated on the 10th day of the month of Zilhajj or Zulhijja and coincides with the Haj Day or Arafat Day, to commemorate the sacrifices of Prophet Ibrahim, Prophet Ismail and his mother Hager.
Muslims believe that Prophet Ibrahim offered to sacrifice his son Prophet Ismail to please Allah. Just as Ibrahim was about to sacrifice him, the Almighty replaced Ismail with a sheep.
Eid Al-Adha commemorates this extraordinary display of faith in Allah and Muslims celebrate it by sacrificing animals on this day.