Reflective and sombre in India this Eid (Roundup)

October 2nd, 2008 - 7:22 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 2 (IANS) Millions of Muslims all over India gathered in mosques and homes to celebrate Eid Thursday but the mood was sombre with the fear of violence casting a grim shadow over festivities on a day that was also the birth anniversary of the peace apostle Mahatma Gandhi. With the recent spate of terror attacks, bomb hoaxes and the growing wall of distrust dampening the festive spirit, it was a muted Eid for many.

In Delhi’s Jamia Nagar, for instance, the crowds were there but the fun was missing even two weeks after two suspected terrorists were killed in a shootout. The mood carried over to their home in Uttar Pradesh’s Azamgarh area, which is said to have harboured other terrorists as well.

“How can you expect a village to have the usual celebrations when two of its sons have been killed in a police encounter after being falsely implicated in cases of terrorism?” asked Maseeudin, a resident of Sanjarpur village in Azamgarh.

In Mumbai, too, Eid celebrations were subdued with police keeping a strict vigil all over the city, especially in Muslim-dominated pockets.

Though Muslims dressed in their best and exchanged greetings with enthusiasm, there was no bursting of crackers in most areas, as is the norm every year.

In view of the simultaneous Navaratri celebrations, the aroma of non-vegetarian Eid delicacies was conspicuously missing from many areas, including in Muslim pockets in the suburbs of Bandra and Andheri.

The appeal by the All India Muslim Front, urging Muslims to wear black caps and bands to protest against terrorism, evoked partial response in some areas of Malad suburb.

But there was no getting away from the spirit of Eid, which means happiness or feast in Arabic and marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan during which the Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed.

In the true spirit of Eid, communal camaraderie was evident in many areas with Hindus and Muslims greeting each other ‘Eid Mubarak’, spraying perfume on each other and sharing delicacies.

In the national capital, thousands of Muslims gathered at the historic Jama Masjid and other mosques to pray for peace and communal harmony in the backdrop of the recent bombings.

“We prayed to allah for peace and brotherhood in the country. May there be love and peace in the country,” said Pervez Alam, a BPO employee.

In Andhra Pradesh, the biggest congregation was at the historic Mir Alam Eidgah in the state capital Hyderabad where over 300,000 Muslims offered prayers. The historic Mecca Masjid and Eidgah Madannapet as well as other prayer grounds and mosques also witnessed huge gatherings with the faithful praying for peace and prosperity.

The clerics exhorted Muslims to continue pious deeds even after Ramadan and abide by the Quran.

In the Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow, the Sunni and Shia sects sought to bridge their differences and offered namaz together at a Sunni mosque in Aishbagh locality.

“Nearly 400,000 Muslims offered namaz at the mosque,” Naib Imam of the Aishbagh Masjid Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahli told IANS.

Before the prayers, Muslims gave fitra or a specified amount of money to poor and the needy. It is compulsory for every financially sound Muslim to give fitra before the prayers so that the poor and the needy can also celebrate Eid.

After the prayers was the time to feast with people visiting friends and relatives. And enjoying the traditional sevaiyan (vermicelli), sheer korma, a special sweet dish made of vermicelli, milk and dry fruits, kebabs and what have you.

Children wearing new clothes eagerly took their their ‘eidi’ (money elders give to the young as a token of love on Eid) and flooded into streets, adding colour and fervour to the solemnity of the occasion.

Police all over the country - many parts of which had celebrated Eid on Wednesday - had made elaborate security arrangements around Eidgahs and mosques.

A celebration yes, but with police keeping a strict vigil.

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