Muslims in Asia mark Aidiladha

Waiting for customers: A livestock vendor standing with his animals at a cattle market in Hyderabad, Pakistan’s Sindh province. — AFP

Muslims in Asia celebrated Hari Raya Aidiladha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, with food and prayers for people in Gaza suffering from the Israel-Hamas war.

One of the biggest Islamic holidays, the occasion commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s test of faith through slaughtering livestock and animals and distributing the meat to the poor.

It’s a joyous occasion for which food is a hallmark where devout Muslims buy and slaughter animals and share two-thirds of the meat with the poor and it’s a revered observance that coincides with the final rites of the Haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Much of Asia, including Indonesia, Malaysia, India and Bangladesh, observed Aidiladha yesterday, while Muslims in other parts of the globe, including Saudi Arabia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen celebrated the holiday on Sunday.

Yesterday, worshippers joined shoulder-to-shoulder in communal prayers in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta. Preachers in their sermons called on people to pray for Muslims in Gaza and Rafah.

“Our prayers and thoughts are with our brothers and sisters who are now suffering in Palestine,” worshipper Adi Prasetya said after praying at a field in southern Jakarta. “There are many opportunities for us now to channel our help through charities.”

Although Indonesia has more Muslims than any other country in the world, its traditions to mark Aidiladha have been influenced by other religions.

Communal prayers: Girls and women heading out to attend morning mass prayers in Jakarta. Communal prayers: Girls and women heading out to attend morning mass prayers in Jakarta.

Residents in Yogyakarta, an ancient centre of Javanese culture and the seat of royal dynasties going back centuries, believe that if they manage to catch the crops arranged in the form of a cone-shaped pile called “gunungan” that is paraded from the royal palace to the Kauman Grand Mosque, it can bring them good luck.

A day before the sacrifice festival, people in East Java’s Pasuruan city expressed their gratitude and respect for the sacrificial animals by dressing them as beautiful as a bride. The sacrificial cow is wrapped in a seven-fold garland, a shroud, turban and prayer mat and paraded in a tradition called “manten sapi”, or bride cow, before being handed to the sacrificial committee.

Muslims in India, where they comprise 14% of the population, celebrated Aidiladha yesterday across the country.

In New Delhi, thousands offered prayers at the historic Jama Masjid, a 17th century mosque. Families assembled early in the morning and many people shared hugs and wishes after the prayers. Numerous merchants with goats gathered on the streets leading to the mosque where people bargained with them for the best price.

Devotees across Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority nation of over 170 million people, yesterday marked the festival in open fields and mosques where many prayed for a better world free from war.

More than 400,000 devotees, the country’s largest congregation, offered their prayers at a field in Kishoreganj district in the morning.

In the capital, Dhaka, a prominent imam led a gathering on the Supreme Court grounds where 35,000 men and women participated.

Millions of cattle were slaughtered across the country to celebrate the day. — AP

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