New Delhi, July 18 (IANS) Muslims across India on Saturday celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Tight security arrangements were made at many places to ensure that the festival passed off peacefully, but protests broke out in Jammu and Kashmir in which a few people were injured.
Muslims offered prayers at mosques, greeted each other and relished the ‘seviyan’ sweet dish.
From Gujarat to Jammu and Kashmir to Kerala, Eid festivity gripped areas with sizeable Muslim populations.
“On this day, we pay obeisance to the almighty and thank him for his blessings. People come together and celebrate the festival with love and unity,” the Shahi Imam of the 17th-century Fatehpuri mosque in Delhi, Maulana Mufti Mukarram Ahmad, told IANS.
Pakistani envoy Abdul Basit also offered prayers at the mosque and greeted people.
However, border guards of India and Pakistan — the Border Security Force (BSF) and Pakistan Rangers — did not exchange sweets at the Attari-Wagah joint check post near Amritsar.
Pakistan once again violated the ceasefire agreement by firing at Indian positions along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district, on a day people were celebrating Eid.
President Pranab Mukherjee greeted citizens, saying “on this day, let us forgive and forget our differences”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted the people and said the festival epitomised brotherhood in society.
“It is an occasion to spend time with the family. As per tradition, the head of the family gives alms to the poor,” said Faraz Ahmad, a resident of south Delhi’s Gulmohar Park area.
Danish Aslam, a resident of Daryaganj, said the festival continues for around three days. “We meet all our relatives and friends and also exchange sweets, especially seviyan (sweet vermicelli) and kheer (sweet rice pudding)”.
Attired in new clothes and wearing skull caps, thousands of Muslims offered prayers at Eidgahs and mosques in Hyderabad and Secunderabad and in other towns of Telangana and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.
In Uttar Pradesh, the state with the highest Muslim population, thousands of women offered prayers at a mosque in Meerpur in Kanpur. Governor Ram Naik and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav visited the Aisbagh Eidgah in Lucknow and mingled with the crowd.
In Kerala, where Muslims comprise 24 percent of the 33 million population, the biggest crowds were witnessed in Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur, Kochi and state capital Thiruvananthapuram.
In Maharashtra, lakhs of Muslims dressed in their finery offered prayers at the 600-plus mosques. Eid was celebrated in important Muslim pockets of Thane, Palghar, Ratnagiri, Raigad, Aurangabad, Pune, Nashik, Beed and other places.
The Muslim community was joined in large numbers by Hindus, Christians, Jains, Parsis to meet, greet and celebrate in Mumbai’s suburbs like Bhandup, Kurla, Bandra, Borivali, Kandivali, Malad, Jogeshwari, Andheri, Santacruz and Bandra.
However, in Kashmir, protests erupted in some places after Eid prayers. Youths pelted stones at police and paramilitary personnel, who in turn used batons and tear smoke canisters to disperse the protesters. At least three people were injured.
Separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani and Yasin Malik remained under house arrest as the authorities did not allow them to join the congregational prayers.
In West Bengal capital Kolkata, a large number of Muslims gathered at the Nakhoda Masjid, while the sprawling Indira Gandhi Sarani saw over 40,000 devotees on rugs to offer namaaz.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi greeted the people on the occasion of Eid and the Rath Yatra.
The new millennium’s first Nabakalebar Rath Yatra commenced from the Jagannath temple in Puri, Odisha, on Saturday.
Muslims across Himachal Pradesh, braving rain, took part in the prayers.
In Rajasthan, hundreds celebrated Eid in Ajmer, where the Dargah Sharif of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti is located.
“We offered prayers for peace and harmony in our country,” Khalid Usmani, the chief qazi of Rajasthan, told IANS.
While Muslims in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh celebrated Eid, the tradition of exchanging sweets and greetings at the Attari-Wagah check post was broken on Saturday following ceasefire violations along the Line of Control in Jammu sector.
“No exchange of sweets took place between both sides today (Saturday) on Eid,” BSF Deputy Inspector General (Amritsar sector) M.F. Farooqui told IANS.
“This time, the matter was discussed but we did not get any positive response from that (Pakistan) side. We also did not pursue the matter,” he said.
The Hindi film fraternity, led by the legendary Lata Mangeshkar, Rishi Kapoor, Shah Rukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan and Alia Bhatt, among others, took to micro-blogging site Twitter to wish their fans and asked them to spread “love and happiness”.