Eid celebrated in India, Haj tragedy casts a shadow (Roundup)

Mumbai/New Delhi, Sep 25 (IANS) Millions celebrated Eid al-Adha or Bakri Eid with gaiety across India on Friday but the Haj tragedy in Saudi Arabia that killed over 700 pilgrims including 14 Indians cast a shadow.

Eidgah grounds and mosques across the country attracted tens of thousands of dominantly men and children who offered prayers and extended Eid greetings to one another.

Later, goats were sacrificed to commemorate the readiness of Ibrahim, the apostle of God, to sacrifice his son and honour the Almighty’s command, effectively signifying renunciation.

By a miracle, at the last minute, Irahim’s child was replaced by a goat. Goat meat, considered auspicious, was offered to friends, relatives and the poor.

Reports of Eid celebrations poured in from Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar, Assam, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, distant Lakshadweep and even Meghalaya.

Kerala celebrated the festival on Thursday.

Indian and Pakistani troops exchanged sweets on the occasion on the Line of Control in Poonch, Kupwara and Baramulla districts in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Border Security Force of India and Pakistan Rangers similarly exchanged sweets and greetings at their only land border in Punjab at Attari, not far from Amritsar.

The day, however, saw clashes between security forces and protesters in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir.

Special prayers were also offered on Friday for those who died in a stampede at the Haj at mosques in Mumbai, Thane, Nashik, Aurangabad, Pune and other parts of Maharashtra.

It was the worst Haj disaster in 25 years. Among the victims are one from Maharashtra and 13 others from other parts of India.

The severe drought in Maharashtra and the state-wide ban on beef, enforced strictly since May, also added to the no-frills celebrations in the state.

In Lucknow, which often seens Shia-Sunni tensions, the two communities came together to celebrate Eid.

Thousands wearing new clothes and skull caps prayed in Eidgahs and mosques in Shillong, Dawki, Nongpoh, Lad Rymbai and Byrnihat and in the Garo Hills.

“We prayed for peace in our homes and in the world,” Shillong Muslim Union general secretary Alhaj Sayeedullah Nongrum said.

Muslims in Madhya Pradesh celebrated with special Eid prayers. The main Eid congregation was held at Eidgah in Bhopal.

Governor Ram Naresh Yadav and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan greeted the people on the occasion.

The situation was no different in Delhi, where tens of thousands gathered at the 17th century Jama Masjid and nearby Fatehpuri mosques.

Rajasthan Muslims too celebrated Eid. The main prayers were performed at Eidgah on Jaipur’s outskirts and in Ajmer, home to the shrine of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti.

Haji Syed Salman Chishty greeted the over 200,000 devout and prayed for all countrymen on the occasion.

Offering prayers at mosques, thousands of Muslims also celebrated Eid in Punjab and Haryana besides Chandigarh.

Muslims also gathered in many thousands in mosques in Bihar, West Bengal and Assam, IANS correspondents reported.

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