Delhi marks Eid-ul-Zuha with simplicity, prayers

December 9th, 2008 - 1:45 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 9 (IANS) Muslims dressed in festive robes gathered at mosques for prayers and wished each other on the occassion of Eid-ul-Zuha in the national capital Tuesday but the terror attacks in Mumbai, still fresh in people’s minds, cast a shadow on the celebrations.As always, the centre of Eid festivities here was the 17th century Jama Masjid, where about 20,000 devotees gathered to offer prayers.

“In the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks, festivities are low-key,” said a cleric.

Security at the mosque was tight. All devotees were frisked and there were constant announcements, asking people to report anything suspicious.

The Imam, addressing the masses during prayer, condemned the Nov 26 terror attacks in Mumbai and called for simple celebrations. Many devotees even sported black bands on their arms as mark of condemnation of terror.

Soon after the morning prayers, thousands of devotees sacrificed goats and other animals. Meat was also donated to the poor in the spirit of sacrifice and giving that the festival symbolises.

“It is our tradition to distribute a portion of meat to the underprivileged, relatives and friends,” said Azhar, a resident of the Jama Masjid area.

“Before the sacrifice, we carefully check goats for imperfections, such as broken teeth or horns, injured legs and defective eyes. It is considered a sin to offer anything less than perfect to god,” he added.

Eid-ul-Zuha, also known as Bakr-Eid or the festival of sacrifice, is one of the most important festivals in the Muslim calendar. It commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son on Allah’s command. According to Islamic belief, Allah wanted to test Ibrahim and told him to sacrifice his son Ismail.

He agreed to do it, but found his paternal feelings hard to suppress. So, he blindfolded himself before putting Ismail at the altar on Mount Mina near Mecca. When he removed his blindfold after the sacrifice, he saw his son standing in front of him.

On the altar lay slaughtered a lamb. It is in honour of this test of faith that Muslims around the world sacrifice animals on the occasion to show their faith in Allah.

In spite of the gloom following the Mumbai carnage, the spirit of the festival was intact. Everywhere people turned out in their finest clothes in keeping with the view that one should wear at least one new piece of clothing on Eid.

Young girls and women celebrated in shararas (flowing divided skirts), silk burqas and colourful bangles. Men were more soberly dressed in traditional white kurtas - but colourful caps.

“I and my family will not celebrate with too much fanfare - just visit a few friends with sweets and do some charity. The mood in general seems grave,” said Ahmad Ali, a devotee at Jama Masjid.

But Ali, like many others, is looking forward to a day of delicacies.

“My mother prepares some lovely dishes with gosht (lamb meat). The sevaiyan and other sweets can’t be missed either,” he added.

The aroma of kebabs and biryanis wafted in the air, drawing people to the numerous food shops in old Delhi. Several restaurants could be seen feeding beggars, a practice sponsored by Muslims who want to do some charity.

“We feed a few beggars almost every day, but during festivals like this, there are scores who line up here,” said a restaurant owner.

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