Muslims in Maharashtra celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr with great fervour and gaiety Friday. This year, the festival that marks the end of the period of fasting in the holy month of Ramadan fell on a Friday, making it special.
Lakhs of Muslims clad in traditional attire trooped out at dawn to the nearest mosque in places like Dahisar, Borivli, Jogeshwari, Andheri, Marol, Bandra, Sion, Byculla, Mazagaon, Ghatkopar and other areas of state capital Mumbai to offer the thanksgiving "khutba" or special Eid namaaz.
For the first time in over two decades, the main Eid-ul-Fitr prayers could not be held at the historic Azad Maidan owing to rain, Syed Zafar, a senior citizen residing in Nagpada, south Mumbai, said.
"This year, the prayers were conducted mainly in the big and small mosques, many of which had erected special marquees to protect the devout from unpredictable Mumbai rains," Zafar said.
The morning prayers would be followed by similar special Friday prayers later in the afternoon, making the Eid-ul-Fitr of this year rare and truly memorable.
"For the first time in many years, Eid-ul-Fitr falls on a Friday, making the occasion twice as auspicious for all Muslims," Shabbir Somji, senior member, Khoja Asla Ashri Jamaat, told IANS.
Soon after the "khutba", Muslims greeted each other with "Eid Mubarak" and hugged, inside the mosques. Beyond the mosque, the greetings and hugs extended to non-Muslim brethren.
Then, the first celebrations started with a bowl of "sheer-korma", the special Eid sweet preparation made of milk, vermicelli and lots of dates, assorted dry fruits and saffron, eaten with relish and served to visitors through the day.
Elsewhere in Maharashtra, traditional pomp and enthusiasm marked Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations in Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Pune Nashik, Aurangabad, Beed, Latur, Nanded and other districts in the state.
The festival was celebrated with gusto in Muslim-dominated towns like Bhayander, Mira Road, Bhiwandi, Mumbra, Malegaon, Alibaug and others across the state.
Shortly after the sighting the Eid moon Thursday night, mosques and other religious places in Mumbai and other parts came alive with colourful fairy lights, decorations of with flags, flowers and festoons to herald the joyful festival.
Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre, AICC general secretary in-charge of the state Mohan Prakash, AICC general secretary Gurudas Kamat and AICC secretary Sanjay Nirupam were among the prominent people sending out Eid-ul-Fitr greetings.
Meanwhile, heavy security was deployed in all Muslim pockets in Mumbai and other parts of the state to ensure peaceful celebrations.