Muslims in northern India celebrated Eid on the culmination of the month-long fasting of Ramadan. The holiday that thrives on hearty gatherings and community sharing of meals was celebrated in a subdued manner across country. The festival was celebrated on Sunday, 24 May in the southern part of the country, to coincide with the celebrations in Saudi Arabia.
The government and Islamic religious leaders urged community members to celebrate the festival within their homes and avoid religious or social gatherings during Eid-ul-Fitr.
"We used to prepare [a] myriad of dishes for the Sehri (a meal consumed early in morning before fasting) and Iftari (evening meal after fast), but this time, due to low income because of the lockdown, we just had simple food. While earlier me and my mom visited the markets to apply mehendi, we had to do it all by ourselves this time. No Eidis were exchanged", said Rukhsar Khan, a college student in Delhi.
As per tradition, elders in a Muslim family give gifts (Eidi) to children to celebrate Eid. The relatives, too, exchange Eidis among themselves. But according to Rukhsar, this Eid was a "plain" one.
Another member of a Muslim community, who did not wish to be named, said that this time there was a huge bias against Muslims, as they were largely portrayed as "super spreaders" of the coronavirus.
"So no one actually focused on marketing products for the festival this time. The festival lost its zeal. All the Muslim traders, who used to sell Eid material... could not do it properly this time", he said.
Muslims in India were subjected to bitterness and hostility after the community's missionary group Tablighi Jamaat held a massive congregation of nearly 2,000 people in Delhi despite orders against such gatherings in the wake of the pandemic. Many of the members of the gathering tested positive for COVID-19 later.
Virtual Hugs, Celebrations
All major mosques and Idghas in India that are usually abuzz with crowds for collective prayers on Eid had a deserted look for the first time in the country. Most people also stayed away from their loved ones due to the lockdown and therefore participated virtually in the feasts at home.
Samar Ahmed, a school student, said that Eid is incomplete without offering Namaz (prayers) in a mosque. "Our father lives in Saudi Arabia and he couldn't come home for Eid this time. Whatever little celebrations that were held at our home were attended by him virtually", he said.
Pictures of locked mosques and people offering Eid prayers were widely circulated on social media.
#WATCH Delhi: People in Chandni Chowk offer Eid namaz at their residence and greet each other on the occasion of #EidUlFitr, amid the fourth phase of the #CoronavirusLockdown. pic.twitter.com/OeilKmnzRc— ANI (@ANI) May 25, 2020
Chennai: Walajah Big mosque in the Triplicane area remains closed for devotees on #EidUlFitr during the fourth phase of the COVID19 lockdown.— ANI (@ANI) May 25, 2020
The total number of positive cases in Tamil Nadu stands at 16,277 pic.twitter.com/0goKUfGnHi
Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to congratulate the people of the country on this auspicious occasion. Several other politicians also exchanged greetings.
Eid Mubarak!— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 25, 2020
Greetings on Eid-ul-Fitr. May this special occasion further the spirit of compassion, brotherhood and harmony. May everyone be healthy and prosperous.
आप सभी को ईद मुबारक!— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 25, 2020
Eid Mubarak to each and every one of you.#HappyEid
Eid Mubarak! This festival is an expression of love, fraternity, peace & harmony. Eid reaffirms our belief in sharing with & caring for the vulnerable & needy. Let us carry the spirit of giving (Zakaat) on this Eid and follow social distancing norms to contain coronavirus spread.— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) May 25, 2020
Eid celebrations mark the conclusion of 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting for an entire month (Ramadan) observed among members of the Muslim community. It is believed that it was during this month that the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed.