by Peerzada Arshad Hamid
SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- The special congregational prayers and sacrifice of thousands of animals offered by Muslims across Indian- controlled Kashmir Wednesday marked the celebrations of Eid-ul- Adha.
Since morning Muslims were seen gathering in prayer grounds ( open spaces meant for special prayers on Eid) and mosques to offer prayers.
The biggest congregations were held in twin capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu, where men were seen shoulder-to-shoulder in prayers, bowing down in the direction of the Kabba at Muslim holiest city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Following the prayers, believers subsequently joined the sacrificing of animals.
Eid-ul Adha, also known as festival of sacrifice, is celebrated world over on the 10th day of Duhl Hijjah, the last month of Islamic year.
In Indian subcontinent because of the practice of sacrificing animals, Eid-ul- Adha is also known as Bakr Eid.
The festival is celebrated to commemorate Prophet Abrahim's submission to God's will.
According to Muslim scholars, Prophet Abrahim was ordered to sacrifice his beloved son prophet Ismail. However, at the last minute, when the father's knife was about to slit the son's throat, a goat from heaven replaced prophet Ismail.
"Among the well-off Muslims, it is incumbent they should offer sacrifice of animals on Eid-ul Adha," said Shakeel ul- Rehman, a religious scholar. "The meat of the sacred animal is then divided properly as per the instructions and distributed among relatives, neighbors, friends and poor."
The Eid-ulAdha is being celebrated in India and Asia with religious fervor and gaiety. The Arab world, Europe and Middle East celebrated the Eid on Tuesday. Media reports quoting Saudi Arabia's public statistics office said 1.98 million performed Hajj this year, compared to 3.16 million.
Indian-controlled Kashmir has been reeling under conflict and violence for the past two decades and more. Separatists in the region are demanding an end of New Delhi's rule. Days ahead of this biggest festival, markets witnessed a huge rush of shoppers purchasing eatables, new clothes and sacrificial animals.
The shoppers complained of market inflation and sky rocketing of prices ahead of Eid.
Muslims wear new clothes on this festival and greet their friends and families. Pocket money and presents are given to children on this occasion. Special foods and delicacies are prepared for the day. Money is also distributed among the poor and needy.
Indian-controlled Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has extended greetings to the region's people on Eid-ul-Adha.
Kashmiris working or studying outside travel back home to celebrate the festival with their families. Eid is an official holiday in the region.
Authorities had placed region's top separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani under house arrest, fearing his participation in prayers would trigger protest demonstrations in Srinagar.
However the moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was allowed to offer prayers in historic Jamia (grand) mosque in the old city.