India celebrates Eid, Ganesh Chaturthi with prayers (Roundup)By IANS
Saturday, September 11, 2010
NEW DELHI - Millions of Muslims and Hindus across India Saturday celebrated Eid and Ganesh Chaturthi with prayers and offerings to the less privileged.
From the Kashmir Valley to Hyderabad in the south and from Gujarat to Assam in the far-east, Muslims poured into small and huge mosques in urban and rural areas for the morning Eid namaz.
Two of the biggest congregations in the capital took place at the mammoth Jama Masjid and Fatehpuri mosques, both built in the 17th century near Old Delhi’s famed Chandni Chowk.
Once the prayers got over, a sea of mainly young and elderly males with skullcaps streamed out of the mosques to embrace one another and offer Eid greetings. In many places, Hindus joined them.
At over 150 million, India is home to the world’s second largest Muslim population after Indonesia. They are also the country’s largest religious minority.
“There were people, people, people everywhere in our mosque and in the areas around our mosque,” Shahi Naib Imam, Maulvi Mohammed Muazzam Ahmed, of the Fatehpuri mosque told IANS.
“Both before and after the namaz, almost 50 percent of those who called or met to greet me were Hindus or Christians,” he said.
Even before Eid prayers began, Hindus armed with flowers and coconuts began visiting temples to offer prayers to the elephant-headed Lord Ganesh to mark Ganesh Chaturthi.
While the event was marked with the most exuberance in Mumbai and the rest of Maharashtra, the celebrations took place all across the country — in homes as well as in temples.
In Tamil Nadu, tens of thousands thronged Ganesh temples. Temples in Delhi also drew thousands.
In Srinagar, summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, the Eid prayers were followed by massive street protests as emotive crowds seeking independence from India marched from the Hazratbal mosque to the city centre Lal Chowk attacking security personnel and government buildings.
Authorities had not imposed curfew or restrictions anywhere in the Kashmir Valley to allow people to offer Eid prayers.
After the prayers, a large group of people outside the Hazratbal shrine torched the barracks of the armed police. The guards fired shots in the air. Similar anti-India rallies took place in many towns of the Kashmir Valley.
In Mumbai, despite a terror threat, millions marked Eid, Ganeshotsav and Jain community’s Samvasari.
While Hindus turned up in huge numbers at thousands of big and small marquees for the ‘aarti’ of Ganesha, Muslims converged in some 200 mosques around the city to offer namaaz.
The Shwetambar Jain sect celebrated the end of their eight-day fasting period and wished each other in temples dotting the city.
Hindu and Muslim celebrations also took place in all states including Uttar Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Eid was marked in Kerala Saturday.
Temples in Bangalore and other cities were decked up. Hundreds stood in serpentine queues to join special poojas to ward off evil.
Hindus also had colourful rangoli designs in the forecourts of their houses, strung fresh mango leaves across their doors and worshipped clay idols of Ganesha.
Eid was celebrated with religious fervour and gaiety across Andhra Pradesh, with Imams condemning earlier plans of an American pastor to burn the Quran to mark 9/11 anniversary.
Similar demands were made by Muslim clerics in Patna and several towns in Bihar.
Muslim men and children clad in new clothes offered prayers at Idgahs and mosques in Hyderabad. The biggest gathering took place at the city’s Mir Alam Idgah where over 300,000 offered prayers.