As coronavirus dampens Eid celebrations across the country, iconic mosques in Lucknow and markets remain deserted amid appeals by senior Muslim clerics to stay indoors and ensure social distancing.
This would probably be the first time that the devotees in the country won’t step out to congregate in the shrines and offer prayers, greet each with a warm embrace or hold gatherings to celebrate the festival.
Thousands congregate every year for Friday prayers in Lucknow as the holy month of fasting – Ramadan – comes to an end.
On Friday, only four people along with the chief cleric Maulana Khalid Rashid at the mosque in Aishbagh locality. The top cleric has asked people to use social media to greet each other.
Of the two biggest mosques in the city, one of them – Teele wali Masjid – has been locked down amid the pandemic. Nearly 50,000 people offer Friday prayers here.
Lucknow’s iconic Bara Imambara, also known as Asfi Mosque, close to Teele wali Masjid also remains shut due to the pandemic. The monument – one of the most popular in the state capital – was built by Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula in 1784.
The Muslim clerics have also appealed to donate money to those affected by the pandemic. “Many have been left unemployed due to the lockdown. We have appealed to the people to donate 50 per cent of the budget to those affected,” Maulana Khalid Rashid said.
Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had thanked the community leaders for spreading awareness as Ramadan began.
“When Ramzan was observed the last time, we never thought that there would be so many difficulties this time. Now that we are deep in crisis, we have an opportunity to observe the holy month with patience, sensitivity and selflessness. This time, we have to pray more than the last time so that the world is freed of coronavirus before Eid… so that we can celebrate with fervour just like before,” he said during his monthly radio address – Mann Ki Baat.
Ramzan is marked by month-long fasting by followers of Islam and culminates with celebration of Eid al-Fitr.
Most Muslim majority countries around the world, including Saudi Arabia, have called on their citizens to limit their movement and face to face contact during this year’s celebrations.
“Muslims will hold the Eid prayer at home because of the pandemic,” the Saudi Press Agency cited Sheikh Abdul Bari al-Thubaiti, the imam, or the prayer leader, of the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, as saying in the Friday sermon.
In Saudi Arabia, the Eid al-Fitr celebrations begin on Sunday.
“Saturday will be the last day of the sacred holy month of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr will take place on Sunday,” the royal court and the supreme court said, quoted by the official Saudi Press Agency.