Mumbai, Aug 12 : Around two crore Muslims in Maharashtra, including almost 25 lakh in Mumbai, on Monday celebrated Eid-ul-Zuha or Bakrid with religious fervour and the ritual sacrifice of goats.
The 'Festival of Sacrifice' - which falls on the 10th day of the Zul-Hijja month in the Islamic calendar, also the month in which the holy Haj pilgrimage is performed - salutes the readiness of Ibrahim, the Prophet and Messenger of God, to sacrifice his son an act of allegiance to His command.
Lakhs of Muslims congregated at over 500 mosques in Mumbai and suburbs to offer the morning 'namaaz', followed by the sacrifice of the goat, amidst tight restrictions and high levels of cleanliness.
The main Eid-ul-Zuha public 'namaz' could not be offered at the historic Azad Maidan and the YMCA Grounds in south Mumbai, so the crowds were accommodated in two-three shifts for the prayer at various mosques in Mumbai, said veteran Urdu journalist and activist Aejaz A. Ansari.
This year, the number of goats sacrificed has fallen drastically, by around 25-30 per cent owing to various factors including political and economic, community members said.
"Last year, we had around 100 goats in our housing complex, this year its barely 75," Aslam Qureshi of Dar Al Muwada Society told IANS.
"We urged Muslims to make token sacrifices and the money saved should be donated for the Maharashtra flood relief operations. We have collected around Rs 500,000 which will be donated to CM's Relief Fund for the flood victims," said an NGO activist Iqbal A.
They lauded the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)'s cooperation in ensuring total hygiene and cleanliness during the sacrificial rituals.
"The BMC vans were waiting to pick up all the wastes immediately instead of waiting for the people to dispose it off in public dustbins. All sacrifice areas were fully covered to ensure the religious sentiments of brothers and sisters of other communities are not hurt," said Ansari.
Elsewhere in the state, the festival was celebrated with religious fervour and sacrifices in Muslim-dominated regions of Aurangabad, Beed, Latur, Nashik, Ahmednagar, Pune, Thane, Palghar, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Solahpur and Nagpur.
However, the celebrations were subdued in the flood-hit regions of Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur, and surroundings which are just emerging from the floods.
The Mumbai and Maharashtra Police have maintained a strict vigil in all areas to ensure that the festival passed off peacefully.
Maharashtra Governor C.V. Rao, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, several ministers, Congress leaders, Mumbai Nationalist Congress Party President Nawab Malik, state Samajwadi Party chief Abu Asim Azmi and other leaders have greeted Muslims on the occasion of Eid-ul-Zuha.