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Muslims celebrate Eid Al-Fitr across Asia

13-05-2021

By SJA Jafri + Agencies + Bureau Report

ISLAMABAD/ JAKARTA/ RIYADH: People across Asia celebrated Eid al-Fitr with masks and prayers, but in many places COVID-19 restrictions were in place to limit the joyous mass gatherings and family reunions that usually mark the Muslim holiday.

Millions of people across the continent would typically travel to their hometowns to celebrate with their families and crowd markets, shopping malls and mosques, scenes the authorities in hard-hit countries are trying to avoid.

In Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, the faithful wore masks as they arrived at the Dian Al-Mahri mosque in Depok, a city to the south of Indonesian capital Jakarta, and they sanitized their hands before going in.

At the entrance, a poster outlining six steps recommended by the World Health Organization to prevent the spread of COVID-19 served as a stern reminder of the danger in a country that has the highest number of cases and deaths in Southeast Asia.

“(We are) very lucky that we can pray together this year, when we couldn’t do it last year,” said Tri Haryati Ningsih, 53.

“Especially when the pandemic is still going on, we are still allowed to worship together this year, with health protocols in place. Hopefully, the coronavirus will pass quickly and we can always worship together,” she said.

From Indonesia to Pakistan, governments have imposed restrictions to contain the spread of the virus during Eid, which marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Indonesia has banned domestic travel until May 17, while Malaysia imposed a new national lockdown on Monday ahead of the festival.

Pakistan last month announced an extended holiday around Eid and extra safety restrictions aimed at reducing mass travel during the celebrations.

The government urged people to stay at home after the country suffered a record number of COVID-related deaths during Ramadan, and ordered the closure of malls, non-essential shops and the public transport system during the holiday.

MOSQUES SHUT

Eid starts at different times in different places as the timing depends on when the local religious authorities sight the moon.

In India, celebrations are likely to be muted with nearly two thirds of the country under some sort or movement restrictions due to the acute COVID-19 crisis there.

In New Delhi and other cities, Eid prayer services at major mosques will be limited to between five and 10 clerics and staff and will not be open to the general public.

Some smaller mosques will shut altogether, with clerics asking the faithful to pray from home.

Soaring numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths in India have overwhelmed the health system, leaving many patients without oxygen, hospital beds and adequate treatment.

At the mosque in Depok, Indonesia, worshippers were praying for the coronavirus to end soon.

“My biggest hope is that the COVID-19 pandemic will quickly pass and things return to … what it was before, so that we can meet with our family and relatives again, and we don’t feel lonely anymore,” said Cici Permata, 27.

Pakistanis share funny greetings after unexpected Eid announcement

After an agonising wait that drew close to midnight on Wednesday, the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee announced that Eid-ul-Fitr will be observed the next day, much to the shock of people who had expected it to be on Friday.

The Meteorological Department had forecast slim to no chances for the moon being sighted today and Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry had predicted the moon’s age will be such on Wednesday that a crescent will only be visible on Thursday, meaning Eid will be on Friday.

After reeling from the initial shock, Pakistanis made quick work of wishing each other, using many funny greetings to reflect the national mood.

After fasting from sunrise to sunset in the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims around the world celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr to mark the end of the Islamic holy month with great enthusiasm. The tenth month of the Islamic calendar is called Shawwal. And, the first day of this month is celebrated as Eid-ul-Fitr.

As the Islamic calendar is lunar, the sighting of the moon differs from country to country by approximately one day. The lunar months are shorter than the solar months. Eid, in India, is usually celebrated one day after sighting the crescent moon in Saudi Arabia. This year, Eid will be celebrated on May 14, 2021.

The Jeddah Astronomical Association has reported that the Shawwal crescent sighting will likely occur on May 12 (Wednesday).

Seeing the moon, people wish Eid Mubarak. The day is marked by wearing new clothes, meeting friends and family, and savoring a delicious meal.

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