Bangladesh has opened the celebrations of Eid-ul-Azha with morning prayers and the sacrifice of animals amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Millions of Muslims have participated in Eid prayers in mosques across the country, but the congregations were curtailed amid a backdrop of surging coronavirus cases and deaths.
The main Eid congregation was held at Baitul Mukarram National Mosque at 7 am on Wednesday. Special prayers were conducted for the recovery of those who are suffering from the coronavirus and for the salvation of the dead. The devotees also prayed for the protection of Bangladesh from the pandemic shocks.
Festivities have begun on a muted note against the backdrop of nearly 160,000 active coronavirus cases. The number of such patients may be much higher as many do not get tested.
As the outbreak surged at a record pace with more than 200 deaths and 10,000 cases almost every day in July despite a harsh lockdown in the first two weeks, experts have called for an extension of the restrictions. But the government decided to allow the celebrations until Jul 23 morning, urging the people to be wise to the danger.
President Abdul Hamid in a message wished everyone a happy Eid and advised them to observe the occasion with caution by adhering to proper hygiene rules and practising physical distancing.
He also urged all to stand by the people affected by the pandemic with inspiration from the Eid-ul-Azha spirit of restraint and sacrifice.
Although the experts and the authorities urged the people to strictly follow the coronavirus health protocol to reduce the risk of infection, most of them appear to care a fig about their own and their families’ health.
An exodus of people wearing no mask and maintaining no social distancing to return to their home villages or towns from the cities marked the run-up to the festival, raising fear of a larger outbreak.
“We've been fighting the coronavirus pandemic for more than a year now. And in this fight, we have lost many loved ones. I would like to remember them today and seek the salvation of their souls," Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said in a video message on ahead of Eid.