Religious fervour and enthusiasm marked Eid-ul-Adha, the festival of sacrifice, across Telangana and Andhra Pradesh on Saturday.
Muslims in Hyderabad and in other cities and towns of 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.
The day began with Muslims attired in their best, offering Eid prayers. At many places, Eid prayers were offered a few minutes after Fajr or the regular morning prayers.
Tens of thousands offered prayers in Hyderabad and 30 other districts of Telangana and all 13 districts of Andhra Pradesh.
During their speeches before namaz, the imams exhorted Muslims to imbibe the spirit of sacrifice and follow Prophet Ibrahim, who offered to sacrifice his son Prophet Ismail to please Allah. The Almighty replaced Ismail with a sheep just as Ibrahim was about to sacrifice him.
Also known as Bakr-id or Eid-e-Qurban, it is the second major festival of Muslims.
The meat of the sacrificed animal is distributed equally in three parts. The person making the sacrifice keeps one part for his family while the other two parts are distributed among relatives and the poor.
The streets of the Muslim-majority old city of Hyderabad wore a festive look while butchers coming from other districts did brisk business.
Hectic activity was seen in many parts of the city as the sale of goats continued throughout the night. The goats and sheep were sold for Rs 5,500 to Rs 8,000 each.
In response to the appeal by a group of religious scholars, Muslims preferred sacrificing goats, sheep and cattle rather than cows.
Deputy Chief Minister of Telangana Mohammed Mehmood Ali had appealed to Muslims to respect sentiments of their countrymen by avoiding sacrifice of cows. He advised them to sacrifice goat or other cattle.
As police had seized trucks transporting cattle at various places, Ali asked Director General of Police Anurag Sharma to ensure that the cattle other than cows are released.
The sacrifice can be made during the three-day celebrations, with Saturday being the first day.
The biggest congregation in Hyderabad was held at the historic Mir Alam Eidgah where thousands of people offered prayers. Moulana Mohammed Rizwan Qureshi led the prayers.
The historic Mecca Masjid, Madannapet Eidgah, Hockey Ground Masab Tank and Military Ground Mehdipatnam witnessed other big congregations. Prayers were also held at hundreds of mosques in the city.
The imams in Hyderabad prayed for peace in the country and across the world. They also prayed for rains as the city is facing drinking water shortage due to insufficient rains this season.
Tight security arrangements were made in the communally sensitive old city of Hyderabad in view of the ongoing Ganesh festivities, which will conclude with the annual immersion processions on Tuesday.
A day before Eid, police and paramilitary forces conducted a flag march in various parts of the old city of Hyderabad to ensure people are safe and secure ahead of the two festivals.
Eid was also celebrated in Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Nalgonda, Mahabubnagar, Adilabad, Warangal and other towns of Telangana.
In Andhra Pradesh, huge Eid congregations were seen in Vijayawada, Guntur, Kurnool, Kadapa, Anantapur and other major towns of the state.