NewsEid Al-Adha: Bangladesh flouts lockdown to celebrate

Eid Al-Adha: Bangladesh flouts lockdown to celebrate

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Dhaka, Bangladesh: Tens of millions of Bangladeshis defied a Covid-19 surge, Wednesday, to join prayers in packed mosques and outdoor locations, as Muslims slaughtered record numbers of animals for the festival Eid al-Adha.

The Hizri calendar’s Eid-ul-Azha is commemorated on the 10th day of the Zilhajj month when Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) volunteered to sacrifice his beloved son Hazrat Ismail (AS), who voluntarily submitted to his father’s will to serve Almighty Allah around 4,500 years ago.

But Allah spared Hazrat Ismail (AS) and instead sent a ram to be sacrificed.

The government has lifted a strict lockdown for a week to allow millions to head back to their villages for the second-largest religious festival in the Muslim-majority country.

The South Asian nation of 169 million people, where two-thirds live in villages, has been hit by a major surge in coronavirus cases and deaths in recent weeks that shows little sign of abating.

This is despite a tough lockdown in place since July 1 shutting down transport, offices, and deploying the military to stop people leaving for their homes except for emergencies and essential supplies.

More than a million Bangladeshis have now been infected and over 18,000 have died — figures seen as a gross undercount. 

The surge has been blamed largely on the Delta variant first detected in neighboring India.

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Hundreds gather in makeshift markets despite the Covid lockdown, where cows and other livestock are sold for ritual slaughter in Eid. Image courtesy of Dhaka Tribune via Twitter.

On Wednesday, the streets of Dhaka took on a festive look, with people in traditional clothing hugging each other and watching butchers as they slaughtered cows and goats for the three-day celebration.

Iftekhar Hossain, a spokesman for the livestock ministry, told AFP “a record 11.9 million cows, goats, buffaloes, and lambs have been readied for sacrifice this Eid”.

He said authorities have launched an app to facilitate online animal sales as they want to cut crowds in the cattle markets to stop the spread of coronavirus.

“A record 387,000 cows and goats have been sold online,” he said.

The Eid al-Adha animal sale is a $10 billion industry and is one of the key drivers of the economy in rural Bangladesh.

It is a key reason the government lifted the lockdown to allow cattle farmers to bring their animals to the cities.

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Millions rush back home from workplaces in trains and other transportation in Bangladesh, just before Eid to be with families and celebrate. Visuals are nothing different from the ordinary time, except for the fact that a pandemic is raging. Image via Twitter.

Mohammad Ali, a farmer, said: “Last year we had to struggle due to the lockdown. This year again, if the lockdown wasn’t lifted, we along with our families would have to die starving.”

Ali came to Dhaka with 20 cows from the western border district of Kushtia.

On Tuesday, hundreds of thousands of people thronged the Gabtoli cattle market, the largest in the capital, deep into the night for last-minute purchases of animals.

“This is a difficult time. But sacrificing an animal during Eid is mandatory. Being a follower of Islam, how can I deny that? That’s why I came to the market to buy a cow,” Yasir Arafat, 39, a banker and a buyer, told AFP.

AFP
AFP is a leading global news agency for comprehensive, verified coverage of events shaping the world.

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