As the Eid-ul-Fitr is approaching, everywhere in Bangladesh Muslims are witnessing dearth of Eid festivities as the people are preparing to perform a different kind of Eid-al-Fitr prayer this year due to coronavirus pandemic.
Every year the religious Muslim communities visit Eidgahs or open grounds to join community Eid prayers, and exchange greetings. But this year, doctors and authorities are requesting people to celebrate Eid in a bit different way for the sake of safety.
The Government is also encouraging the people to carry out the Holy Eid Prayers at respective homes to prevent the risk of coronavirus contagion. Muslims are also being discouraged to embrace each other and shake hands after the Eid jamaat.
Depending on the sighting of the moon, Eid celebrations will begin either in the evening of Saturday, May 23, or Sunday, May 24.
The occasion will be affected this year as the government take measures to curb the coronavirus pandemic, including the suspension of Eid prayers, outdoor festivals, and other celebratory events.
This year, Eid prayers have been cancelled in all Eidgahs, including the capital Dhaka. Islamic scholars and imams on Friday at Jumah prayers urged Muslims to pray at home instead of going to the mosque.
Every year, the city corporations and district administrations also organize central Eid prayers in all the districts. But this year, government authorities will not organize Eid prayers on open grounds following the decision.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has already instructed not to organize Eid jamaat on the Supreme Court premises, the main Eid congregation in the country. Similarly, Eid prayer at South Plaza of the National Parliament will also not be held this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A public notice by the Religious Affairs Ministry, issued on Thursday, said: “Islam encourages to perform Eid prayer at Eidgah or open ground. But considering the health safety, worshipers are being instructed to perform prayers at mosques, following social distancing. If necessary, more than one jamaat will be arranged at different time slots.”
“As well as all the health guidelines must be followed by the devotees, failing which government authorities and police will take legal action,” according to the public notice.
Following are the health and safety guidelines one must adhere to for performing Eid prayer at mosques:
1. Mosques are not to use carpets on their floors. The floors themselves must be cleaned with antiseptic five times a day, following each prayer. Worshippers must bring their own prayer mats and caps.
2. Hand sanitizer or handwashing soap and water must be kept in front of the mosques so that everyone can wash their hands before entering. Everyone must wear masks inside the mosque.
3. Ablution must be performed before going to the mosque.
4. Believers standing in the same line must maintain a distance of at least three feet from each other. Lines must not be formed in consecutive rows, but alternate rows.
5. Children, the elderly, the sick, and those engaged in the service of patients cannot participate in the congregations.
6. General guidelines of the health care department, local administration, and law enforcement agencies must be followed to ensure public safety.
7. The mosque management committees must ensure that the guidelines are followed. Failing to ensure adherence may result in legal action against mosque management.
Earlier, the Ministry of Religious Affairs had announced that all mosques will be opened to the public for mass prayers from May 7 upon ensuring a few conditions and social distancing measures.
General people said that the number of people moving on the streets is less as the offices, courts and business are closed. After the evening, a frightening atmosphere is being created in the city. In such a situation, the mood of Eid is almost incomprehensible.
Hussain Ahmod Azad, a school teacher, told The Bangladesh Post that this time the context is completely different, we are celebrating Ramadan and we will also celebrate Eid in a different way. We have been fighting against a terrible invisible virus since last March. This invisible coronavirus has affected not only Bangladesh but the whole world. Mankind is going through a difficult time around this virus.
He further said, “Bangladesh is no exception. Like other countries in the world, coronavirus has also attacked Bangladesh. The pace of life has been stopped, the wheel of economy has also been stopped. The first coronavirus patient was detected in Bangladesh on March 8, and since then the people of Bangladesh have been going through a turbulent time. Coronavirus patients are being identified every day and the rate of detection is increasing at an alarming rate.”
Medicine specialist Dr Muhibur Rahman told The Bangladesh Post that before the Eid day, mass people tend to do grocery shopping for family. One should order products from online grocery shops and get delivery at home. If anyone finds no other way but to visit a grocery shop physically, he or she should go a less crowded store, wearing mask, and hand gloves.
Director General of Health Department Dr Abul Kalam Azad told The Bangladesh Post that the ritual of holy Eid prayer is followed by offering treats to relatives, friends, and neighbors. But this year, people can minimize visiting relatives. People can utilize video calling and other technologies to greet their relatives while staying at home. However, if people still decide to visit any relative’s house they should not leave their face masks behind.
He said, “The holy Eid brings heavenly bliss for the whole Muslim community. Unlike previous years, let us celebrate this holy Eid with a different flavor in a cautious way. Simple precautions can save you, your family, relatives, friends, and neighbors from the COVID19 pandemic. And, our collective precautions can make the upcoming Eid celebration happier and safer for the whole country.”
Meanwhile, the general holiday announced by the government due to coronavirus has been going on since March 25 and will continue till May 30.