Eid at the time of COVID-19
Middle East & Africa

Eid at the time of COVID-19

The pandemic is set to cast a heavy shadow on the holy festival of Eid al-Adha, usually celebrated with great enthusiasm the world over.

Eid al-Adha, or the Festival of Sacrifice, is the holiest festival celebrated by Muslims across the world. But this year it is set to look very different, with the coronavirus pandemic that has affected millions of people, devastated economies and shrunk the personal finances of people world over.

In better days, Muslims would come together with their friends and relatives to sacrifice an animal, usually sheep, goat or camels, denoting Abraham’s sacrifice of his son. The meat is shared among friends, family and neighbours and also donated to those in need. But this time governments have advised their citizens to not visit relatives and only spend time with their immediate family.

The lockdown restrictions have also left many unable to travel to be with their families. Many mosques will be shut or prayer times will be staggered so as to ensure crowd control. In some countries, people can oversee their sacrifices at the slaughterhouse and opt for home delivery of meat, so that they needn’t leave their homes at all.

But for many, this might not be an option. The pandemic has hit personal finances very hard. Cattle herders speak of slow business activity in the lead up to the festival. With imports hit, it has become expensive to feed the animals as well, leading to an increase in cost.

Barely anyone comes to pick out animals for slaughter, and even if they do, it is alone, and not as before, when they’d come with their whole family and make an occasion out of it. Some dealers are accepting payment in installments to encourage more people to buy livestock but some people still find it unaffordable.

This is casting a gloom over festivities, as the sacrifice is the most important ritual, which precedes the feast, and without it, Eid is not the same for people.

Hajj 2020 began on July 28 and it will go on till August 2. Due to COVID-19, social distancing protocols were followed by pilgrims in Mecca Madina.

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