Muslims worldwide celebrate start of 'Festival of Sacrifice'

Zarrin Ahmed
Palestinians pray on the first day of Eid al-Adha in Gaza on Tuesday. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo

July 20 (UPI) -- Millions of Muslims across the world are celebrating Eid al-Adha, a religious festival at the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

Eid al-Adha, Arabic for "Festival of Sacrifice," is celebrated on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah -- the 12th month of the Islamic calendar.


The multi-day celebration occurs at different times in various nations. In Saudi Arabia, for example, it will be observed on Tuesday and in India it will be held on Wednesday.

In the United States, most Muslims began the celebration on Monday night.

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Eid al-Adha is the second Islamic festival of the lunar calendar after Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan -- the holy month of fasting and prayer -- in May.

The occasion calls for joy and peace, celebration of family, letting go of past grudges and making meaningful connections, according to the Hindustan Times.

The holiday also commemorates the Islamic Prophet Abraham's faithfulness to God after being tested with the unfulfilled command to sacrifice his son.

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Muslims believe that Abraham was commanded by God to sacrifice his son Ishmael. But just as the prophet was about to carry out the sacrifice, he was allowed to sacrifice something else.


Muslims re-enact the symbolic sacrifice with a lamb, goat, cow, camel or other animal. The meat is divided into three parts and shared equally between friends, family and the needy.

The festival is celebrated in a variety of ways across the world. This year with the coronavirus pandemic, there may be more changes in the way Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha.

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In the United Arab Emirates, Eid day begins with prayer and people congratulating each other with hugs. People decorate their homes and dress in their best clothes for the occasion. A three-day feast begins with food and "Eidi" gifts.

In Turkey, men typically go to the mosque for the special Eid prayer. In some areas, a sacrificed animal is painted with henna and adorned with ribbons. In recent years, some have made donations to charity rather than sacrificing animals.

Pakistani Muslims celebrate for four days rather than three. All shops there close during the first day. In Bangladesh, preparations for Eid start nearly a month in advance. In Britain, Muslims start the day with a full-body purification ritual. Some mosques hold study days or lectures on aspects of Islam and Islamic history.

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