BY FAKIR BALAJI
Bengaluru, April 25 (IANS) Ramadan fasting in the holy ninth month of the Islamic calendar began on a subdued note across Karnataka due to extended lockdown and ban on congregational prayers in mosques for social distancing and preventing the coronavirus spread, a state Waqf board official said here on Saturday.
“This is the first time in many years we are unable to offer morning (fazr) or evening prayers (maghrib) or break the fast (iftar) in mosques due to lockdown and ban on gatherings for physical distancing,” the official told IANS.
Though the month-long fasting began on Friday (Jumma) in the state’s coastal region, as the crescent moon was sighted on Thursday night (Jumme ki raat) over the west coast, it is being, however, observed from Saturday in other parts of the state.
“On the central/state government direction, we have advised our members across the state not to offer congregational prayers (salat) at mosques but in their homes due to ban on religious gatherings amid the extended lockdown from April 15 to May 3 across the country,” the official said.
In India’s tech city, home to about 20 lakh Muslims, prayers were offered at homes, while about 800 mosques across the city were deserted and eerie in the absence of devout, azan was aired through loudspeakers at dawn to signal fazar (morning) fasting and breaking it for iftar later in the evening.
On April 16, the board advised all Muslims in the state to offer congregational prayers (salat) and break their fast in the evening in their homes due to lockdown extension and ban on religious gatherings.
According to the state’s Imarat-e-Sharia, fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and considered as a blessed month by Muslims the world over.
“As mosques and darghas (shrines) will remain closed for public and religious congregations are prohibited due to Covid-19 outbreak, azan was made at low decibel and prayers were offered only by Pesh Imams, Muazzans and masjid staff,” said official.
The Wakf board chief executive also asked the imams to announce in three languages (Urdu, Hindi and Kannada) four times a day through the public address system that devotees should not to visit mosques for Ramadan sahri, fasting iftar and Taraveeh prayers till May 3.
“No arrangements are made for Dawat-e-Sahri or iftar or porridge in mosques for distribution in the nearby areas (mohallas) and no eatery is allowed near mosques in the interest of public health,” said the imam.
Return of the some virus-infected Tablighi Jamaat members in March after attending a week-long congregation in New Delhi’s Nizamuddin markhaz and emerging as a Covid-19 spreaders also forced the board to ban gathering in mosques and dargahs (shrines) during the lockdown.
“With the central government declaring that social, cultural, religious and spiritual gatherings will not be allowed till May 30 even after the extended lockdown ends on May 3, thousands of the faithful are reconciling to a low-key Eid-ul-fitr at the end of the fasting month,” Islamic analyst Siddiq Alduri told IANS.
Police were deployed in plainclothes and patrolling stepped up in mosque areas across the city to ensure strict implementation of lockdown and prevent the devout from gathering in masjids or reopening up of eateries around them.
“We only hope and pray the government will allow eateries around mosques and food streets to re-open in the evening after the lockdown ends to break the fast for iftar with haleem, sheek kababs, ferni and other gastronomical delights,” Alduri said.
Shopkeepers selling clothes, jewellery, cosmetics and footwear, and hoteliers who make brisk business during the Ramada month, are looking forward to lifting of the extended lockdown on May 4 to make up for the loss they incurred during the 40-day shutdown of their businesses since March 25.
BY FAKIR BALAJI