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Muslims in Asia celebrate Eid al-Adha with sacrifice festival and traditional feast

Jun 16, 2024, 8:01 PM

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Muslims in Asia on Monday celebrated Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, with food and prayers for people in Gaza suffering from the Israel-Hamas war.

One of the biggest Islamic holidays, the occasion commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s test of faith through slaughtering livestock and animals and distributing the meat to the poor. It’s a joyous occasion for which food is a hallmark where devout Muslims buy and slaughter animals and share two-thirds of the meat with the poor and it’s a revered observance that coincides with the final rites of the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Much of Asia, including Indonesia, Malaysia, India and Bangladesh, observed Eid al-Adha on Monday, while Muslims in other parts of the globe, including Saudi Arabia, Libya, Egypt, and Yemen celebrated the holiday on Sunday.

On Monday, worshippers shoulder-to-shoulder joined in communal prayers in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta. Preachers in their sermons called on people to pray for Muslims in Gaza and Rafah.

“Our prayers and thoughts are with our brother and sisters who are now suffering in Palestine,” worshipper Adi Prasetya said after praying at a field in southern Jakarta. “There are many opportunities for us now to channel our help through charities.”

“May Allah give strength to those ravaged by war… may those who are divided can live in peace again,” said another devotee, Berlina Yustiza.

Although Indonesia has more Muslims than any other country in the world, its traditions to mark Eid al-Adha have been influenced by other religions.

Residents in Yogyakarta, an ancient center of Javanese culture and the seat of royal dynasties going back centuries, believe that if they manage to catch the crops arranged in the form of a cone-shaped pile called “gunungan” that is paraded from the royal palace to the Kauman Grand Mosque, it can bring them good luck. They scrambled to grab various food offerings, made of fruit, vegetables and traditional snacks.

A day before the sacrifice festival, people in East Java’s Pasuruan city expressed their gratitude and respect for the sacrificial animals by dressing them as beautiful as a bride. The sacrificial cow is wrapped in a seven-fold garland, a shroud, turban and prayer mat and paraded in a tradition called “manten sapi,” or bride cow, before being handed to the sacrificial committee.

Villagers in Demak, a town in Central Java province, celebrated the holiday with a procession of livestock called “apitan” as a form of gratitude for the food and harvest. They bring food in bamboo containers to the town’s square where they eat together after praying. Locals believe the procession will provide prosperity and that disaster would come if it was abandoned.

Eid al-Adha commemorates the Quranic tale of Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice Ismail as an act of obedience to God. Before he could carry out the sacrifice, God provided a ram as an offering. In the Christian and Jewish telling, Abraham is ordered to kill another son, Isaac.

In Malaysia, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim joined thousands of congregants, including foreign tourists, and offered morning prayers at a mosque near his office in Putrajaya, south of the capital Kuala Lumpur.

Meanwhile at a wholesale market in Selayang, just outside the capital, Muslim workers there knelt on mats placed on a large piece of white cloth laid outside the market to perform their prayers.

In his message, Anwar said the opportunity to go on the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca is one of God’s great gifts and should make one more ascetic and simpler.

“I invite Muslims to live the message of simplicity that is preached in Hajj, to always be humble and not be mesmerized by the attraction of temporary worldly riches,” Anwar said, “Let’s not deviate from this goal. The world should be a bridge to the eternal land.”

Muslims in India, where they comprise 14% of the population, celebrated Eid al-Adha on Monday across the country.

In New Delhi, thousands offered prayers at the historic Jama Masjid, a 17th century mosque. Families assembled early in the morning and many people shared hugs and wishes after the prayers. Numerous merchants with goats gathered on the streets leading to the mosque where people bargained with them for the best price.

Devotees across Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority nation of over 170 million people, on Monday marked the festival in open fields and mosques where many prayed for a better world free from war.

More than 400,000 devotees, the country’s largest congregation, offered their prayers at a field in Kishoreganj district in the morning.

In the capital, Dhaka, a prominent imam led a gathering on the Supreme Court grounds where 35,000 men and women participated.

Millions of cattle were slaughtered across the country to celebrate the day.

___

Associated Press writers Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Rishi Lekhi in New Delhi and Julhas Alam in Dhaka, Bangladesh, contributed to this report.

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Muslims in Asia celebrate Eid al-Adha with sacrifice festival and traditional feast