If there was sporadic violence in Kashmir Valley, there was also
the heartwarming gesture of Muslims in a Maharashtra town
deferring the traditional goat sacrifice as a mark of respect to
Hindus. As millions of Indian Muslims celebrated Eid-ul-Azha, its
spirit came alive in many splendoured ways.
Be it in open grounds, at home or in the 17th century Jama Masjid
- one of Asia's largest mosques - it was a day of prayers and
"We prayed to Allah to protect us from evil. I also prayed for the
longevity of my parents and friends," Naeem Ansari, who offered
namaz at Aishbagh Eidgah in Lucknow, told IANS.
Dressed in colourful clothes, people visited each other, exchanged
gifts and greetings and shared delicacies. Eid-ul-Azha, popularly
known as Bakr-Eid, is a festival of sacrifice. And from commoners
to celebrities, it left none untouched.
"This is one of the rare days that I take a day off from my busy
schedule because I want to be with my family, besides attending
prayers," Malayalam superstar Mammootty said in Kerala.
Many women offered namaz at home or in specially erected quarters
at open grounds.
India has a Muslim population of more than 140 million, one of the
largest in the world. And it showed as people turned up in large
numbers across the country - from the deep south to the Himalayan
north - at mosques to offer prayers.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the only Muslim dominated state, youths at
some places clashed with security forces, pelting stones and
raising pro-freedom slogans.
"But the security forces exercised absolute restraint to avoid any
civilian casualty on the holy occasion," said Shafqat Ahmad Watali,
deputy inspector general of police (DIG), south Kashmir range.
Prominent separatist leaders like Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz
Umer Farooq were placed under house arrest to prevent them from
inciting the youth to violence. But hundreds of thousands offered
At the Eidgah grounds of Delhi, the imam, Mufti Haneef, said peace
and harmony should prevail in the country.
Eid-ul-Azha commemorates Prophet Ibrahim's great act of faith many
centuries ago. Legend has it that Allah asked him to sacrifice his
only Ismail and he agreed. But when he opened his eyes after the
sacrifice, he found his son alive and a slaughtered lamb at the
In a symbolic gesture, meat is, therefore, distributed on the
festival among neighbours, relatives and the poor. And goats are
specially reared for it.
A giant four-feet tall goat, weighing 180 kg, nearly four times a
normal goat, grabbed attention in Nagpur, Maharashtra.
"I used to spend over Rs.400 per day on its food and milk. It has
been sold to a customer for around Rs.1.75 lakh," said its owner
In the state's temple town of Pandharpur, Muslims lived up to the
spirit of sacrifice.
As nearly half a million people converged there for the Hindu
festival of Kartiki Ekadashi, Muslim community elders said they
did not want to hurt the religious sentiments of the pilgrims and
decided to postpone the goat sacrifice till Friday.
In Hyderabad, over 200,000 people offered prayers at the historic
Mir Alam Eidgah, making for the biggest Eid-ul-Azha congregation
in the city.
But no Bakr-Eid is complete without mutton dishes and
mouthwatering sweets. "A dish made of liver is usually eaten
before other delicacies," old Delhi resident Zahir Abbas Khan, who
sacrificed 10 goats, told IANS.
Women cooked up a feast in their kitchens.
"I am preparing fried liver, mutton stew and sevaiyan for the
festival. Our neighbours and friends will bring homemade dishes
and it will be like a community meal," said Parveen Nasreen, a
homemaker in Azad Market.
Of course, there was no dearth of takers. It was Eid-ul-Azha,