Down Memory Lane

Published:  02:25 AM, 15 June 2024

First Eid Ul Azha Celebrations in Liberated Bangladesh

First Eid Ul Azha Celebrations in Liberated Bangladesh

 In liberated Bangladesh,first Eid-ul-Azha was observed on January 27 in 1972.Lives forever in the memories we keep. I am now indulged in reminiscences of the saidEid-ul-Azha celebrations in Bangladesh Which happened about 52 years back.

We, in support of our friendly countries - India and former Soviet Union, gave a crushing defeat to the obnoxious nexus of Pakistan-USA-China on 16 December, 1971 and thuswe attained our own homeland – Bangladesh.The past beats inside me like a second heart. There are memories that time does not erase, but my memories of Bangladesh’s liberation war in 1971 were all extremely brutal. Because…

Horrific Pakistani army and their local mango-twigs –especially the leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) were mass-murderers in 1971 in the truest sense of the term. Those hellish creatures committed mass-killings pronouncing the holy words, “Naraye takbir, Allahu-akbar. Pakistan Zindabad. Pakistan is the holy place of Islam,” and then slaughtered our innocent people. They did never allow those dead bodies for burial. Rather, they vauntingly allowed those dead bodies for eating by the dogs, jackals, vultures and other human flesh eaters.

I saw all those horrors in my own eyes in 1971 being a direct witness of cruel birth of Bangladesh from a very close proximity in 1971 almost on every day basis and as a frontline Freedom Fighter of the 1971 war field. I was then a college student, aged 16 plus. I narrowly escaped murder attempts 5 times at the wretched hands of barbarous Pakistani soldiers and their local mango-twigs, especially Jamaat-e-Islami Al-Badr mass-murderers and my left leg was bullet-wounded.

The Liberation War in 1971 is a story of mass-people with a burning desire for liberty. These men were willing to sacrifice all for the dream of a new independent and sovereign country, a country where the power to be resided with the people. It was the dream of a country for the people of all religions. These men were the patriots to the core. This write-out is dedicated to these men and women, who not only dreamed, but sacrificed all in order to realise the dream of independent Bangladesh.

Bangladesh was a poem in our eyes; and its ample geography dazzles our imagination. I hail from Kishoreganj District Sadar (in 1971, it was a Subdivision). Acting President of our Government in exile in 1971 was Syed Nazrul Islam like a majuscule political stalwart, also hailed from the same District. Since the British Regime in the-then Indian Sub-continent, Sholakia Eidgah Moidan in Kishoreganj District Sadar stands-out as second for the largest Eid congregation across the world. We celebrated the first Eid-ul-Azha in freed Bangladesh on January 27 in 1972. It was the largest Eid-ul-Azha congregation – ever held at Sholakia Eidgah Moidan.

The country was then fully battered by the bloody war knife thrusted on us by savage Pakistani army and their local mango-twigs.At the said Eid congregation, Syed Nazrul Islam made a silver-tongued, but emotive-choked speech before us. He made a clarion call to our people, “To rebuild the country unitedly from ashes and make it into a ‘Sonar Bangladesh.’” He further added, “This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.We should believe Bangladesh will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

Syed Nazrul Islam, one of the greatest orators of his times, was interestingly enough, like other great orators of the world before him, born with a speech impediment which he worked on until it no longer hindered him. One would never guess this from hearing his strong and reassuring voice, a voice that would buoy up Bangladesh during her darkest hours in 1971.

It seemed as if the luminous career of his would go on forever. He used to address the crowd; he did not use the opportunity to wallow in pity. Instead, he spoke of the things he was grateful for and what a lucky guy he was! In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. He did not shrink from this responsibility; he welcomed it. He did not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavour would light our country and all who serve it and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

Muslims around the world have begun celebrating the annual festival of Eid al-Adha – the Festival of Sacrifice – which falls on the 10th day of Dhul Hijjah, the 12th and last month of the Muslim lunar calendar. Eid al-Adha is the second major Muslim festival after Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting.

Muslims believe the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) was tested by God who commanded him to sacrifice his first-born son, Ismail (Ishmail). Ibrahim was prepared to submit to the command, but God stayed his hand. Instead, he was told to sacrifice an animal, likely a lamb or sheep.

The event also marks the end of Hajj, a five-day pilgrimage all able-bodied and financially capable Muslims are obliged to undertake once in their lifetime. The pilgrimage is believed to cleanse the soul of sins and instil a sense of equality, sisterhood and brotherhood.

Over 2.5 million pilgrims from around the world flock annually to the cities of Makkah and Medina in Saudi Arabia for the ritual.Mosques are packed with worshippers with outside arrangements made to accommodate large groups of people.The occasion is marked by the sacrifice of an animal that Muslims can eat – a goat, sheep, cow or camel – by those who can afford to do so.

The animal sacrifice comes with an element of charity, as the person paying for the sacrifice is required to distribute part of it to others.The meat of the sacrificed animal is divided among three groups: the person sacrificing it and their immediate family, extended family and friends, and those in need.

One important tradition for Eid al-Adha is helping those in need.An animal, like a cow or goat, is sacrificed. The meat then gets donated to people who can't afford it. Not all Muslims sacrifice an animal themselves. They can buy special meat from shops and donate that. Or they can donate money to charities that give special meat to others.All these ways honour the story of Ibrahim. Taking care of others is a very important part of being a Muslim.

I still recall in that speech Syed Nazrul Islam said, "Even during the holy month of Ramadan, Bangladesh’s Muslims and countless other men and women were killed by the brutality of the invading forces. Last year, we could not celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr as we were mourning for the 3 million lives lost to the devastating storm of unwarranted Pakistani war with us. This year, we join the Eid-ul-Azha prayers with the sorrow of those 3 million people who were brutally killed by Pakistan’s military president Yahya's troops. Sadly, freedom was attained at the cost of such sacrifice.”

“On behalf of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, I extend my heartiest Eid greetings to the people of Bangladesh. The joy we were deprived will hopefully be compensated to us today as we freed our country from the enemy.”

It further reads, "I am proud to call myself a Bangali. Our culture is as lively as a flowing river. Motivated by self-power, the Bangali will once again raise his head in front of the rest of the world. One is my religion. The other is my national identity. Religion is my personal belief and practice. National identity is my collective heritage. The only difference between a Hindu and a Muslim Bangali, or a Buddhist or Christian Bangali, is their religion. But they are the same in their food, their taste, their geographic environment, their health and culture, their colour and political goal."

We got Kishoreganj liberated from the cruel occupation of Pakistani soldiers and their local brutal accomplices in the wee hours of 17 December, 1971. Victory belongs to the most persevering. In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves… self-discipline with all of them came first. So, the bud of our victory was always in the truth.Our victory against Pakistan like a rogue country is forever for making a history. Our victory is registered in the golden letters in the pages of history.

On 18 December, 1971, I deposited my fire arms to the nearest camp of Bangladesh government’s law enforcing agency and came back to my normal life, began to deep-down to studying and so on.

On this special day, I also wish all people of Bangladesh a blessed Eid-ul-Azha filled with happiness, good health, and success.

Anwar A. Khan is a freedom fighter that writes
on politics and international issues.

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