Last Monday was a special day for the Muslim communities around the world. It was the first day of Eid al-Fitr, a three-day holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.
Eid was well-celebrated in Afghanistan, despite the daily confrontations between the Taliban and the Afghan army. Parents allowed their children to roam around despite security risks.
“Because of the security concern we usually don’t allow the children to go out, but Eid is always an exception,’’ said Mobeen Shah, an Afghani resident.
Special Eid delicacies including shor–nakhod made from chickpeas, wa Kolcha cake and jalebis were sold in bazaars. Families went to visit their loved ones on the special day.
In Bangladesh, the state-owned Bangladesh Betar and BTV broadcasted special programmes on the day. Newspapers and magazines also published Eid special sections.
President Abdul Hamid delivered a celebratory message saying, “Eid develops bondage of harmony, amity and unity among the people, irrespective of their classes and professions.” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also tweeted an Eid Mubarak message to her followers.
People who were staying in state-owned hospitals, children’s homes, disability centres, shelter homes, safe homes and jails also got served special festive food during Eid in Bangladesh.
Indian President Pranab Mukherjee tweeted saying, “Warm greetings & good wishes on auspicious occasion of Idu’l fitr, hope festival enriches lives with spirit of brotherhood.”
“May Eid-ul-Fitr reinforce the nation’s commitment to mutual harmony and radiate the message of India’s composite culture to the whole world,” he added.
In India, Eid was celebrated with biryani, a traditional dish of meat and rice, sheer khurma (dessert) and saalan (curry). Elders gave gifts and money to children, and people visited family and friends. Eid prayers were offered all around India, where people gathered at historical places including the Taj Mahal where thousands of muslims prayed in unity.
In Maldives, Eid congregations were held in every island. In the capital Male, a mass prayer was held in the Maafannu Stadium. In Maldives, youngsters celebrate Eid by disguising themselves with a paste made from water, flour and colouring to celebrate. There are also traditional dances and games on the streets.
In Nepal the former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba gave his best wishes to the Nepali Muslim community living in Nepal and abroad. Muslims gathered at the Kashmiri Mosque located near Durbarmarg, as well as the Jame Mosque located near Bagbazar. People also visited the graves of their dear ones to honour them in the special day.
In Karachi, Pakistan, a major mass prayer was held in Bagh-e-Jinnah, which is usually a polo ground. The Eid prayers were especially dedicated to the citizens of Pakistan, who have become refugees within its own borders due to conflicts.
Prayers were also offered for security, progress and prosperity of Pakistan, as well as for the liberation of Kashmir and Palestine. Eid congregations were held at open places and mosques all around the country. The security in many cities was increased to avoid any incident on this holy occasion. President Mamnoon Hussain and other politicians also took part in the mass prayer that was held in Aiwan-e-Sadr in Islamabad.
In Sri Lanka the president, Mahinda Rajapaksa said, “I wish all followers of Islam in Sri Lanka a Happy Eid ul-Fitr. Eid Mubarak.’’ Many devotees attended the Grand Mosque in Colombo on Tuesday morning to pray.
However, in the south-western Sri Lanka, Eid was not as peaceful as it should have been. Riots by the hardline Buddhist group, Bodu Bala Sena, went on in the cities of Aluthgama, Beruwala, and Dharga. At least four people were killed and several houses and shops of muslims were destroyed.
“I have two young children whom, on the night of the riots, I had to take to the mosque so that they would be safe,” said Mohammed Shezad of Aluthgama.
“How can we celebrate when our homes were attacked and shops burnt down? Every night I am scared for my family’s safety: those riots targeted us because we are Muslim.’’
Another resident, Mohammed Althaf said, “By the second day, Sinhalese homes were putting out the Buddhist flag so as to make sure they were not affected.’’
Sri Lankan cabinet spokesperson Keheliya Rambukwella said that it was an isolated incident, and promised that the government would create safety for all communities in the country.
Conflict between Muslims and Buddists has been ongoing Sri Lanka. The police said that 124 people had been arrested in connection with the violence, and 100 of them had appeared in court.
People have mixed feelings about who to blame. Resident Asela Ratnasinghe told about an attack made by Muslims. “Several of them attacked a Buddhist monk on Poson poya, which is a religious day for us.”
Some have another view on the riots, ’’As a Sinhalese I am ashamed that this happened,’’ said Sinhalese resident, Ranjith Boteju, who has lived in the city for 60 years.
In spite of the riots, Eid is a special holiday and children in particular look forward to it. “My friends always bring food during the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, and I do the same during Eid,” says Ashraff, a Muslim boy.
— Rikke Cathrine Nielsen, Correspondent (Asia: South)
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