Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will address the nation on Sunday evening on the occasion of eve of the Eid
Bangladesh will celebrate the Eid-ul-Fitr this year on Monday, amid the Covid-19 pandemic that has killed more than 450 people across the country since March.
The Shawwal moon was not sighted anywhere in the country on Saturday evening, the National Moon Sighting Committee announced at a press briefing at the Islamic Foundation office in Baitul Mukarram National Mosque in Dhaka.
In line with the Muslim lunar calendar, the last day of the fasting month of Ramadan will be observed on Sunday and the Eid will begin on Monday, said Religious Affairs Ministry Secretary Md Nurul Islam at the briefing held after a meeting.
The Eid is seen as a time of forgiveness and of giving thanks to Allah for helping people to complete their month-long spiritual fasting.
But this year, the biggest Muslim religious holiday will be celebrated in a different scenario, without any outdoor program and Eid congregations at Eidgah grounds across the country because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Eid is normally celebrated by families gathering together. But most Muslim majority countries, including Bangladesh, around the world have called on their citizens to limit their movement and face to face contact during this year's celebrations.
The ongoing pandemic has killed over 340,700 people globally until Saturday evening.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, which has put in place a full curfew for the holiday period, will celebrate Eid on Sunday, authorities said on Friday.
The kingdom is the most affected among the Gulf countries, according to declared data, with more than 67,000 confirmed infections and 364 deaths from the Covid-19 respiratory disease.
Most of the Middle Eastern countries, including Jerusalem, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Qatar and Lebanon, also said celebrate Eid on Sunday.
Muslims in many areas in Bangladesh observe and celebrate various religious events on the same day as Saudi Arabia.
Govt directives on Eid prayers
The government has urged Muslim devotees to avoid Eidgah or other open places for Eid congregations, offer prayers at mosques maintaining recommended health advice, and to celebrate with only family members indoors instead of visiting relatives’ houses and outing around.
The Religious Affairs Ministry issued an emergency notification on May 14 in this regard, saying: “Although the Islamic Sharia encourages offering Eid prayer at Eidgahs or open places, the devotees are now requested to offer their prayers at nearby mosques due to the coronavirus situation.”
It also suggested disinfecting mosques before the Eid prayers and not rolling out carpets on the floors.
The devotees have been urged to bring prayer mats from home. Besides, arrangements should be made at the entrances of the mosques for washing hands, the notification added.
The devotees must wear masks inside mosques and avoid using prayer mats and caps that were stored earlier there.
Children, elderly people, people with physical ailment, and those who are involved in taking care of the sick will not be allowed to attend the Eid prayer.
Apart from these, the devotees were requested to shun handshaking and hugging after the prayer which has been a common practice throughout the world.
However, amid the risk of virus infection, thousands of people have already left the capital city to celebrate the Eid with their families at their respective village homes.
Eid prayers in Dhaka
In line with the government directives, Dhaka north and south city corporations have also decided to not hold any Eid jamaat on open spaces, including at the National Eidgah, in the city.
However, five Eid jamaats will be held at the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque like every year, according to Islamic Foundation.
The first one will be held at 7am on the Eid day. It will be followed by other four congregations at 8am, 9am, 10am and 10:45am, while maintaining social distancing and health guidelines properly among the devotees during the Eid prayers.
Besides, the historic Eid congregation at Sholakia in Kishoreganj has also been suspended this year in light of the worsening Covid-19 pandemic.
PM to address nation Sunday
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will also address the nation at 7:30pm on Sunday, on the eve of the Eid celebrations amid nationwide shutdowns and restrictions on movements, said the press wing of her office.
State-owned Bangladesh Betar and Bangladesh Television will simultaneously broadcast the address.
Private television channels and radio stations will also air the prime minister’s speech.
Meanwhile, Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering on Saturday called Hasina over phone and extended greetings to her and the people of Bangladesh on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr.
Tshering called her around 7:55pm and they talked for 15 minutes, said her Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim.
He said, during the conversation, Hasina extended Eid greetings to Tshering and the Bhutanese people too.
The press secretary said Tshering also enquired about the damages caused by cyclone Amphan and expressed sympathy for the loss of lives and properties.
Sheikh Hasina thanked him for the phone call, during which issues related to the ongoing coronavirus situation was also discussed by the two leaders, Ihsanul added.
17 prisoners to be released on Eid
On the occasion of Eid, the government will also release 17 prisoners who have been lightly convicted and have served more than half of their jail terms.
The Home Ministry issued an order in this regard on Wednesday, said Md Monzur Hossain, assistant inspector general at the Prison Directorate.
Six of the prisoners will be released from Comilla jail, three from Khulna, two each from Gaibandha and Lalmonirhat, and one each from Tangail, Mymensingh, Jessore, and Kushtia.
Dhaka Tribune’s Tanjir Rahman, Ali Asif Shawon and Hasan Al Javed contributed to this report