Syed Khalique Ahmed & Ishfaq-ul-Hassan
NEW DELHI/SRINAGAR—While several religious organizations, including Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH), have issued guidelines asking the Muslims to follow the Covid-19 guidelines whole celebrating Eid-ul-Azha or Bakrid festival, reports coming from different parts of the country indicate that the festival of animal sacrifice will be at a very low key this year also, owing to Covid-19 though the number of corona cases has come down significantly and all the markets, malls, airports, railways, public transport services, government offices, private establishments, and industries have reopened. The restrictions continue only on religious places and educational institutions throughout the country, for reasons best known to the Central government.
In India, Bakrid is being celebrated on July 21.
JIH President Sadatullah Husaini appealed to the community to celebrate Eid-ul-Azha while following the Covid-19 protocol issued by various state governments to prevent the spread of the infection.
While some states have allowed an assembly of 50 people for prayers in mosques, a few state governments have restricted the number of ‘namazis’ to five, including the Imam who leads the prayers. No prayers will be allowed in Eidgahs across the country.
The state governments’ decisions defy logic because the mosques with the capacity to accommodate thousands of people can easily follow the social distancing norms under Covid guidelines by reducing the number of devotees to half, one-third, or one-fourth of the total capacity. Only Andhra Pradesh has allowed prayers with 50 percent of the occupancy in mosques. West Bengal has also not imposed any restriction on the number of ‘namazis.’
Central and state governments have allowed markets, shopping malls, wine shops, hotels, restaurants, airports, railways, metros, government and private buses, government and private offices, and industries to operate by allowing people to follow the Covid-19 protocols strictly. So why can’t the mosques and other religious places be allowed to work by reducing the number of devotees to half of the capacity?
Jammu & Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir union territory government, the only Muslim majority area in India, has decided not to allow congregational Eid prayers citing a possible third COVID wave.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Pandurang K Pole said no congregational prayers would be allowed on Eid-ul-Azha in the valley, given the prediction of the third COVID wave.
“There will be no congregational prayers on Eid. It will be difficult to limit the number to 25 if congregational prayers are allowed. Prayers will be allowed in a decentralized way like it has been allowed during the peak of the Covid-19 second wave,” Pole told a local news agency.
Kashmir Police, in a tweet, appealed to people to follow SOPs and urged religious leaders and senior citizens to guide the masses.
The restrictions on Eid prayers come days after Jammu and Kashmir government banned the slaughter of cows, calves, and camels on Eid-ul-Azha (Bakra Eid) in the Union Territory (UT).
The state government has restricted the number of people to 50 for prayers in mosques in the national capital, with Covid-19 protocols. In addition, people must wear face masks covering their mouth and nose while going to mosques.
The BJP government in Karnataka, in its guidelines for Bakrid, has said that not more than 50 people will be allowed to offer Eid-ul-Azha prayers. In addition, the order has made the wearing of masks compulsory and said that those offering prayers should stand at a distance of six feet from each.
Appealing to people to celebrate the Bakrid festival at home, the Assam health Minister Keshab Mahanta has said that no more than five people will be allowed for Bakrid prayers in mosques, including the Imam who leads the prayers. He said the wearing of mosques is compulsory.
The guidelines issued by the Maharashtra government for Eid-ul-Azha have banned the offering of prayers in mosques that remain shut down owing to Covid-19 restrictions and appealed to people to offer prayers at home. Asking people to make “symbolic sacrifices”, the guidelines said, “Online purchase or shopping of meat over calls will be allowed as livestock markets are shut.”
Andhra Pradesh is the only exception where the state government has allowed prayers with 50 percent occupancy in mosques by observing social distancing. However, there will be no congregations in Eidgahs.
In Kerala, where the mosques and other religious places continue t shut down due to Covid-19, the state government has allowed 4o persons to perform namaz in mosques as a special case. However, all devotees will have to wear masks and follow social distancing strictly.
The Uttar Pradesh government has allowed 50 persons to perform Bakrid ‘namaz’ at any place, including a mosque. Regarding animal sacrifices, the order stated that sacrifices of animals, except cows, camels, and other banned animals, can be done at government-designated places or private places.
The Congress government in Rajasthan has restricted the number of people in Bakrid prayers to five in mosques, with Covid-19 protocols. However, prayers in Eidgahs are not allowed.
Trinamool Congress government has not restricted the number of devotees in prayers. However, the government has asked people to follow Covid-19 guidelines and maintain social distancing during prayers. Social activist and Jamaat-e-Islami functionary Prof Zafeer Ahmed said that mosque Imams in the state have decided to hold more than one ‘Jamaat’ or congregations in every mosque to ensure that everybody gets a chance to offer Bakrid prayers.