Muslims around the world are holding another major Islamic holiday in the shadow of the pandemic and amid growing concerns about the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus.
Eid al-Adha, or the “Feast of Sacrifice”, is usually characterized by communal prayers, large social gatherings and for many people the slaughter of cattle and meat to the needy.
This year comes the holiday – which starts on Tuesday – as many countries are fighting the Delta variant first identified in India, and some people need to impose new restrictions or appeal to people not to meet and the security protocols to follow.
The pandemic has already taken its toll for the second year on a sacred pillar of Islam, the Hajj Pilgrimage, the last days of which coincide with Eid al-Adha. After about 2.5 million Muslims from around the world moved to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the Islamic pilgrimage was dramatically scaled down due to the virus.
This year, 60,000 vaccinated Saudi citizens or residents of Saudi Arabia were allowed to perform the Hajj, preventing Muslims from other countries from fulfilling their Islamic obligation.
Indonesia marked a bleak Eid al-Adha amid devastating new wave of coronavirus cases in the world’s most populous Muslim majority nation. Large gatherings were banned and stricter travel restrictions were imposed. Vice President Ma’ruf Amin, also an influential Islamic scholar, called on people to say holiday prayers with their families at home.
“Do not do crowds,” Amin said in television comments before the start of the holiday. “Protecting yourself from the COVID-19 pandemic is mandatory.”
The boom is thought to be fueled by travel during another holiday – the Eid al-Fitr festival in May – and by the rapid spread of the Delta variant.