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Feasts and fireworks as Muslims in Asia mark Eid

20 august 2012, 10:30
0
Indonesian Muslims attend prayer during Eid al-Fitr at Bajra Sandhi monument. ©AFP
Indonesian Muslims attend prayer during Eid al-Fitr at Bajra Sandhi monument. ©AFP
Millions of Muslims across Asia began celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday on Sunday, with a month of fasting giving way to feasting, family reunions and raucous festivities, AFP reports.

Vast crowds gathered at mosques, fireworks lit up the night sky and tens of millions headed home to villages to see their relatives and mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

In the Indonesian capital Jakarta, dozens of drummers accompanied a chanting crowd and fireworks shot up from backyards, while mosques played loud music to usher in week-long festivities in the world's largest Muslim-majority nation.

Dian, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, took his family to a mosque in the capital for an early morning sermon with thousands of Muslims, including sleeping children who had stayed up all night.

"We are very happy today, after 30 days of devoting our life to God," he said.

In China, Muslims in the restive western region of Xinjiang visited the tombs of dead relatives and left offerings of food after morning prayers, state news agency Xinhua reported.

Xinjiang, home to around nine million Muslim Uighurs, a Turkic speaking minority, has been rocked by repeated outbreaks of ethnic violence, with many accusing China's leaders of religious and political persecution.

But Ramadan had "passed peacefully", said Liu Zhenqiang, director of the regional ethnic affairs committee, according to Xinhua.

In Malaysia, Prime Minister Najib Razak opened his official residence in Kuala Lumpur to the public for the start of festivities, with tens of thousands of people attending, among them foreign dignitaries and tourists.

Guests were entertained by top local musicians and dancers and were treated to a huge feast of traditional Malay food.

Muslims in the southern Indian state of Kerala also began Eid on Sunday, a day earlier than Muslims across the rest of the country, with the faithful praying in mosques and charities handing out gifts to the needy.

Festivities were set to start across most parts of Pakistan on Monday, but people were already winding down and getting into the holiday spirit, with markets crowded across the country, including in the capital Islamabad.

Women flocked to stalls to buy jewellery and have their hands painted with henna.

Millions in Bangladesh continued their exodus from major cities to countryside villages before Eid on Monday.

Despite government efforts to stop overcrowding on public transport, millions crammed onto buses, trains and ferries, balancing on rooftops and dangling out of windows.

In war-torn Afghanistan, Eid began with an early morning bomb explosion in a cemetery in the Helmand provincial capital of Lashkar Gah that killed two people and wounded seven others, officials said.

"Women and children were among the victims and they were from one family," Helmand police spokesman Farid Ahmad Farhang told AFP.

Many Afghan families visit the graves of relatives during Eid.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but homemade bombs are a favourite weapon of Taliban Islamists fighting to overthrow the Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.

In an Eid message, Karzai said: "Even in the holy month of Ramadan, the enemies of Islam and Muslims under the name of Taliban continued to oppress the Afghan nation."

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