Muslims around the world on Sunday began celebrating Eidul Fitr, a normally festive holiday marking the end of the fasting month of Ramazan, with millions under strict stay-at-home orders and many fearing renewed coronavirus outbreaks.
The three-day holiday is usually a time of travel, family get-togethers and lavish daytime feasts after weeks of dawn-to-dusk fasting. But this year, many of the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims will have to pray at home and make due with video calls.
Some countries, including Turkey, Iraq and Jordan, have imposed round-the-clock holiday curfews. But even where many restrictions have been lifted, celebrations will be subdued because of fears of the pandemic and its economic fallout.
Saudi Arabia, home to the holy cities of Makkah and Madina, is under a complete lockdown, with residents only permitted to leave their homes to purchase food and medicine.
In Pakistan too leaders urged to celebrate Eid with "simplicity" amid a rising number of coronavirus cases and the tragic airline crash on Friday in Karachi which resulted in the deaths of 97 of the 99 people onboard.
In Afghanistan, the government and Taliban insurgents announced a three-day ceasefire in honour of the holiday.
Iran, which is battling the deadliest outbreak in the Middle East, allowed communal prayers at some mosques but cancelled the annual mass Eid prayers in Tehran led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iran has reported over 130,000 cases and more than 7,000 deaths.
“This outbreak is not just dampening spirits of Eid, but also has made the tradition entirely different,” said Andieka Rabbani, a university student in Jakarta. This year, like many Indonesians, he will only see family and friends through video calls.
Virus restrictions remain in place in the mostly-Muslim Balkan countries of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. Mosques have reopened in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, but worshippers must wear masks and practice social distancing, and older individuals were urged to continue praying at home.
Naim Ternava, the mufti of Kosovo’s Islamic community, led prayers in a mosque in front of a small group of imams sitting 1.5 meters apart, with the sermon broadcast outside on loudspeakers.
“I invite you to be patient a little bit more until we overcome the danger,” he said.
HEADER: Bosnian Muslims, some wearing face masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus infection, attend Eidul Fitr prayers in Sarajevo, Bosnia. — AP