Eid-ul-fitr has a special significance as a befitting celebration and thanksgiving to mark the culmination of the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is a month-long fast observed by Muslims across the world. The activity is regarded as one of the five pillars of Islam. The holy fast or Roza is observed from sunrise to sunset. During this month, Muslims are decreed by Allah to adhere to acts of “Deen” (religion) rather than worldly matters. Ramadan is not only about fasting; it is also about being humble, modest and above all, free of all animosities; it is about discipline, self control, self reflection and reformation. After Ramadan, Eid is celebrated on the first day of Shawwal, the 10th month of the Islamic lunar calendar.
This year, in Jammu and Kashmir , Eid-ul-Fitr is being celebrated on 24, May. The restrictions and precautions imposed due to the spread of Corona Virus have not dampened the spirit of the people. The inability to meet has been replaced by passing of messages in social media and communication on mobile with video calls etc. By all means, the brotherhood and love which marks the Eid celebration is visible in ample measure. When markets were opened in a phased manner, several people stepped out of their houses to buy food items but were seen abiding by the social distancing norm as a precautionary measure to halt the spread of the virus.
While the Jammu region has, till now, witnessed limited impact of the Corona pandemic, it rapid spread in Kashmir has been a cause of worry. Kashmiri people have dealt with the crisis with exemplary resilience and patience; they have responded to a call by the Government to maintain precautions with great discipline and have followed all directions in letter and spirit. Officials and doctors have been working tirelessly, to overcome the challenge, even during Ramadan. Volunteers, mostly students, are at the forefront of relief measures, distributing food to the needy during Ramadan.
Under normal circumstances in Jammu and Kashmir, thousands of people attend congregational Eid prayers in Eidgahs, Masjids on a daily basis. The biggest gathering of devotees is at Jamia Masjid in Srinagar and at the Hazratbal Shrine. This year, the people have voluntarily chosen restraint. They are praying mostly at home; smaller congregations at Mosques are conducted as per a pre-set schedule with strict observance of all precautions.
Kashmir’s Grand Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam, while felicitating the people of Jammu and Kashmir on the auspicious occasion of Jumat-ul-Vida (last Friday of Ramadan) and Laitul-Qadr the night of blessings, extolled them to offer prayers in their homes. “On the eve of Shab-e-Qadr, people must offer night long prayers and prayers for repentance at their respective homes. Same should be followed on Jumat-ul-Vida—instead of two Fardh Rakahs, people should offer Zuhr prayers as has been the practice in the fasting month due to the pandemic,” he said. He added that people should refrain from unnecessary spending and instead celebrate Eid in a very austere manner. The practical directive from the highest religious authority had its impact and the celebration, though conducted, were of a nature that did not cause any increase in the virus spread.
The end result of the patience shown is that the deadly virus, that started spreading very fast in Kashmir has been contained in a manner that could set an example for the rest of the country and the world. Broadly speaking there have been about 1300 cases reported in Kashmir of which almost half have already recovered. A little more than 21 people have died due to the infection in the Union Territory. While the unfortunate deaths are deeply mourned, it is necessary to admit that the numbers have remained very les as compared to the national and international average. It is so mainly due to the efforts put in by the administration, the medical fraternity and the people. Timely quarantine contained the spread; those who did get infected received excellent medical treatment.
In adherence to the sacred values, what the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir could not do in the form of celebration they are doing in the form of charity. “We want to give the most to charity and focus on prayers that will resist us from wrongdoings. We all are hoping and praying for the best,” said Farooq Ahmed, chairman for an Islamic seminary in Baramulla. People are lavishly contributing to charitable trusts and even at the individual level helping all to celebrate Eid a joyous manner.
Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu, while felicitating the people of the Union Territory on the auspicious occasion of ‘Eid-ul-Fitr has said, “The festival is one of many examples of India’s multi-dimensional culture. May this festival promote and maintain inter-religious understanding and co-existence and instill the spirit of brotherhood, harmony, and amity among the people of all faiths.”
Lt. Gen. YK Joshi, Army Commander, Northern Command has also extended warm greetings on this auspicious occasion to the “Awaam of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.” Similar greetings to the people have also emanated from the Srinagar based Chinar Corps.
There is a prayer on all lips that this auspicious occasion becomes the harbinger of peace, progress, prosperity and happiness and strengthens the bonds of communal harmony, brotherhood and amity, which are the hallmarks of the glorious pluralistic traditions of Jammu and Kashmir.
The spirit behind the observance of Eid-ul-Fitr, is to express our thanks to Almighty Allah for giving us courage to observe fast in the month of Ramadan and rededicate ourselves to truthfulness, sincerity, self-control, and patience showing complete obedience to Allah. On the auspicious occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr, our fervent prayer to the Almighty is to come to the aid of the humanity and completely eradicate the menace of Corona.
(Jaibans Singh is a social worker, columnist and author)