Bakrid, also known as Eid-ul-Azha, is one of the two major festivals celebrated by muslims worldwide. As there is a significant number of muslims in India, Bakrid is an official holiday in India. Being a secular country, one can witness people joining Eid celebrations irrespective of their own religion.
There are a few religious traditions muslims follow on Bakrid. These traditions are uniformly followed in all other countries as well.
1. End of Hajj pilgrimage
The 12th month of islamic calendar is Dhul Hajj. This month marks the time for pilgrimage to Makkah. Muslims across the globe gather at Makkah in Saudi Arabia. The government of India sends a number of Indian muslims to Hajj every year on selective basis. Their pilgrimage comes to an end on the 10th day of Dhul Hajj which marks the festival of Eid-ul-Azha, also known as Bakrid.
The day prior to Eid is called Arafa which falls on the 9th day of Dhul Hajj. On this day, the pilgrims stand on an open space in the desert called Arafa. It is believed that all prayers get answered in that place when a pilgrim makes sincere supplication. Rest of the muslims, in other parts of the world, keep fasting to add more importance to the day of Arafa.
2. Animal sacrifice
Bakrid is well known for animal sacrifice. On the eve of Bakrid, muslims sacrifice cattle in memory of the sacrifice made by prophet Abraham (peace upon him). Based on the Islamic belief, prophet Abraham had a dream of sacrificing his son Ishmael. He believed that the dream was a message from God and he was ordered to sacrifice his son.
As soon as he woke up, he took his little son on top of a hill, and tried to sacrifice him. But the knife did not work and surprisingly he was unable to sacrifice even after trying several times. At this point, he received a revelation from God and he was instructed to sacrifice a sheep instead.
This incident happened 5000 years ago and at that time human sacrifice was very common. But Islam does not approve human sacrifice and in memory of this incident, muslims sacrifice cattle every year. The sacrificed meat is shared with relatives and poor people. This tradition is also done as a form of charity.
3. Eid prayers
On the day of Eid, muslims gather to perform Eid prayers and special mass prayers are conducted. After praying, people exchange their Eid wishes by hugging and shaking hands. At some places, people exchange gifts and give money to kids. Happiness could be felt in air with smiling faces and joyful hearts.
4. New clothes
As with any other festival, Bakrid is also celebrated with new clothes. People mostly choose traditional outfit on Bakrid. North Indians prefer lehangas and kurtis while south Indian muslims can be seen draped in sarees and dhotis.
Bakrid feast is always non-vegetarian and at some instances, one may even find the meat slaughtered in the morning. Biryani or any other local variety rice forms the main dish. Bakrid feast is devoured along with relatives and friends. In most cases, non-muslims are also invited to join as Indian apartments contain mixed religions.
Bakrid is one of the major festivals celebrated by Indians as they also enjoy official holidays. Commonly known as the festival of sacrifice, this day can also be called as a day of sharing and caring for friends, relatives, poor, elder people and orphans. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) insisted to welcome poor people in feasts and celebrations. Guided by him, muslims take Bakrid as a chance to share their wealth and food with those who are less privileged.