Bangladesh celebrates Eid-ul-Azha, the second biggest festival of the Muslims after Eid-ul-Fitr, amid the coronavirus pandemic compounded by floods.
Thousands of Muslims joined Eid congregations in mosques Saturday morning. A mix of hopes and fears among people is defining the day.
The first congregation of this year’s Eid was held at the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque at 8 am. Imam Hafez Mufti Maulana Mizanur Rahman presided over the congregation.
The congregation was capped by prayers for the victims of the coronavirus and peace and welfare of the nation.
Mizanur Rahman said: “May Allah consider those who have died of the virus as martyrs. Allah, please heal the sick. Protect us all from this disease.”
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina greeted the nation on the eve of Eid, saying the joyous occasion will “remove all the darkness and bring endless happiness”.
Hasina reminded all of the health protocols that need to be followed to reduce the risk of infection.
During Eid-ul-Fitr two months ago, Bangladeshis were housebound due to a lockdown over the outbreak. The government has lifted most of the curbs while the rates of infection and death have remained almost unchanged.
In the daily count on the eve of Eid, the health authorities confirmed 2,772 new virus cases, taking the tally to 237,661 while the death toll surged by 28 to 3,111.
The government has asked all to remain in their areas of work during the Eid holidays, but many left Dhaka and other cities for their village homes to celebrate the occasion with their loved ones, heightening the risks of transmission of the deadly disease.
Disruptions in ferry services due to river erosion and strong currents led to huge crowds of holidaymakers at the piers and tailbacks on the highways. Vehicles snailed throughout the day on the northbound Dhaka-Tangail Highway due to heavy traffic.
Launches bound for the southern districts were overcrowded with holidaymakers who showed no respect for the coronavirus health rules, but there was no rush at Kamalapur Railway Station while in normal times, people left Dhaka riding onto the roofs of the trains.
Shariful Islam, a resident of Dhaka’s Khilgaon, came to the Baitul Mukarram Mosque to join the Eid congregation.
At the end of the prayers, he said, “Nobody expected a situation like the one we’re experiencing today. May Allah protect everyone. I pray and hope that things get back to normal.”
Ahnaf, a fourth-grader, joined the Eid prayers with his father Saidul Islam. His grandfather was upset that he could not go home this year.
“Let’s open the school again soon. I didn’t go to school for a long time. I don’t see my friends anymore.”
Habibur Rahman, a resident of Naya Paltan, said, “There is no joy in Eid this time. I prayed and then I have to stay home all day.”