With prayers, kebabs and charity, Delhi celebrates Eid | delhi | Hindustan Times
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With prayers, kebabs and charity, Delhi celebrates Eid

delhi Updated: Dec 21, 2007 16:55 IST
IANS
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The sun shone brightly on Friday as Muslims in the capital gathered at mosques, dressed in festive finery, feasted on goodies and wished each other Eid Mubarak.

As always, the centre of Eid-ul-Zuha festivities in New Delhi was the historic 17th century Jama Masjid where 50,000 devotees gathered to offer their prayers. That this Eid fell on Friday was cause for double celebration.

An official of the Delhi Wakf Board said mats were laid out in alleys around the mosque, as the massive Jama Masjid compound could not accommodate the crowd of devotees.

The day, also known as Bakr-Eid, is one of the most important festivals in the Muslim calendar. It commemorates Prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son on Allah's command. According to Islamic belief, Allah wanted to test Ibrahim and told him to sacrifice his son Ismail.

He agreed to do it, but found his paternal feelings hard to suppress. So, he blindfolded himself before putting Ismail at the altar on Mount Mina near Mecca. When he removed his blindfold after the sacrifice, he saw his son standing in front of him.

On the altar lay a slaughtered lamb. It is in honour of this test of faith that Muslims around the world sacrifice animals on the occasion to show their faith in Allah.

The spirit continues till this day.

Soon after the morning prayers, thousands of devotees sacrificed goats and other animals following the traditions set by the Prophet.

Meat was also donated to the poor in the spirit of sacrifice and giving that the festival symbolises.

"It is our tradition to distribute a portion of meat to the underprivileged, relatives and friends," said Aslam Khan, a resident of Jama Masjid.

"Before the sacrifice, we carefully check goats for imperfections, such as broken teeth or horns, injured legs and defective eyes. It is considered a sin to offer anything less than perfect to god," he added.

Many visited graveyards to remember those who had passed on.

After that were the celebrations.

Everywhere you went were people turned out in their finest, newest clothes in keeping with the view that one should wear at least one new piece of clothing.

Young girls and women celebrated in shararas, or flowing divided skirts, silk burqas and colourful bangles. Men were more soberly dressed in traditional white kurtas - but colourful caps.

"Eid-ul-Zuha really brings together entire neighbourhoods," Rahana Begam, a tailor at Jama Masjid, told IANS.

"I know I can't celebrate this festival with my family in Kashmir, but the mood here is so enriching that I have no regrets. I am feeling like home here," said Mohammed Akram Ali, who works at one of the restaurants in New Delhi.

The aroma of kebabs and biryanis wafted in the air, drawing people to the numerous food shops.

Shops in old Delhi's Jama Masjid, Ballimaran, Chandni Chowk, Jamia Nagar, Okhla registered the highest footfalls.

Several restaurants could be seen feeding beggars, a practice sponsored by Muslims who want to do some charity.

"We feed a few beggars almost every day, but during festivals like this, there are scores who line up here," said a restaurant owner.

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