New Delhi : Thronging mosques, sacrificing goats, greeting friends and rustling up delicacies, millions of Indian Muslims celebrated Eid-ul-Zuha Monday. The day passed off peacefully, barring in Jammu and Kashmir where clashes broke out between stone pelting youths and security personnel.
What reigned supreme was the spirit of sacrifice. Be it Delhi or Mumbai, Kerala or Uttar Pradesh, the festive mood prevailed everywhere as friends and family got together to mark the occasion, also known as Bakr-Eid.
In Muslim-dominated Kashmir Valley, protests erupted soon after Eid prayers in Sopore, Anantnag and some parts of old Srinagar.
Youths, shouting slogans, started pelting stones at police and the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). More than two dozen security personnel were injured, a senior policeman said. Batons and teargas shells were used to disperse the protestors.
Celebrations were, however, peaceful in other parts of the state. The devout thronged Eidgahs and mosques to offer prayers despite the morning cold. Among them were Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and his father, union Minister for Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah.
In the capital, thousands crowded the 17th century Jama Masjid and other mosques.
Chants of “Allah ho Akbar” resonated in the narrow lanes of Delhi’s old quarters from the loudspeakers of the Jama Masjid, the biggest mosque in India and one of the main centres for Eid festivities.
“The Jama Masjid was packed, thousands morning attended the namaz at 8.30 a.m,” Syed Ahmad Bukhari, Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid, said.
India has the third highest Muslim population in the world at 14 million, after Indonesia and Pakistan. And on Monday, many of them fondly recalled the legend associated with Eid-ul-Zuha.
The story goes that bowing to Allah’s command, Prophet Ibrahim offered his son Ismail in sacrifice. When he blindfolded himself and moved the knife on his son’s throat, Allah ordered a ram from heaven to replace Ismail.
In a symbolic gesture, on this Eid thousands of animals are sacrificed Monday to commemorate the historic sacrifice offered by Prophet Ibrahim.
“The festival underlines the truth that sacrifice brings man and god close to each other. It is not about the sacrifice of goat or sheep, but a reminder of one’s submission to god and the feeling of sacrifice and obedience attached to it,” Mukarram Ahmed, a resident of Jamia Nagar in south Delhi, said.
Around five lakh goats and sheep were sacrificed in Mumbai, nearly two lakh at Deonar abattoir alone. The abattoir, one of the largest in Asia, ensured no illegal animal was brought in for slaughtering as per a court order.
According to tradition, after cutting a goat or a sheep, every Muslim divides the meat into three parts. One part goes to the poor, the second to relatives and the third remains with the family.
The meat was used to prepare a variety of dishes.
“Muslim households generally cook sheer korma, payas and mutton biryani. Unlike Eid-ul-Fitr which is celebrated at the end of Ramzan, Bakr-Eid is not just about sweet dishes,” said Sajeda Khan from the densely populated Byculla pocket of Mumbai.
It was a special day for commoners and celebrities alike.
Superstar Mammootty, a devout Muslim, took a day off from films and was at his home in Kochi. “This is one of the rare days when I take a break from my profession,” he said.
The festival coincides with the Haj pilgrimage in Makkah.