Muslims in Asia celebrate Eid al-Adha with a sacrificial feast and a traditional feast

Devout Muslims pray Eid al-Adha at the Jama Masjid in New Delhi, India, Monday, June 17, 2024. Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Adha by sacrificing animals to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim's faith in his willingness to to sacrifice deeds.  son.  (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Devout Muslims pray Eid al-Adha at the Jama Masjid in New Delhi, India, Monday, June 17, 2024. Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Adha by sacrificing animals to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s faith in his willingness to to sacrifice deeds. son. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Muslims in Asia celebrated Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, on Monday with food and prayers for people in Gaza suffering from the war between Israel and Hamas.

One of the biggest Islamic holidays, the occasion commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s test of faith by slaughtering cattle and animals and distributing the meat to the poor. It is a joyful occasion where food is a hallmark, with devout Muslims buying and slaughtering animals and sharing two-thirds of the meat with the poor. It is a revered celebration that coincides with the final rites of the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Much of Asia, including Indonesia, Malaysia, India and Bangladesh, celebrated Eid al-Adha on Monday, while Muslims in other parts of the world, including Saudi Arabia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen, celebrated the holiday on Sunday.

On Monday, believers took part shoulder to shoulder in communal prayer in the Indonesian capital Jakarta. In their sermons, preachers called on people to pray for Muslims in Gaza and Rafah.

“Our prayers and thoughts are with our brothers and sisters who are suffering now in Palestine,” worshiper Adi Prasetya said after praying in a field in southern Jakarta. “There are now many opportunities for us to channel our aid through charities.”

“May Allah give strength to those ravaged by war… may those who are divided live in peace again,” said another devotee, Berlina Yustiza.

Although Indonesia has more Muslims than any other country in the world, traditions celebrating Eid al-Adha have been influenced by other religions.

Residents of Yogyakarta, an ancient center of Javanese culture and the seat of royal dynasties dating back centuries, believe that if they manage to capture the crops arranged in the shape of a cone-shaped pile called ‘gunungan’ that flows from the royal palace is paraded to the Kauman Grand Mosque, it can bring them good luck. They rushed to grab various food offerings made from fruits, vegetables and traditional snacks.

A day before the sacrificial festival, people in the Pasuruan city in East Java expressed their gratitude and respect for the sacrificial animals by dressing them as beautifully as a bride. The sacrificial cow is wrapped in a sevenfold garland, a shroud, turban and prayer mat and paraded in a tradition called ‘manten sapi’ or bride cow, before being handed over to the sacrificial committee.

Villagers in Demak, a city in Central Java province, celebrated the holiday with a parade of livestock called “apitan” as a form of gratitude for the food and harvest. They bring food in bamboo containers to the town square where they eat together after prayers. Locals believe that the procession will bring prosperity and that disaster will strike if it is abandoned.

Eid al-Adha commemorates the Quranic story of Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice Ismail as an act of obedience to God. Before he could perform the sacrifice, God provided a ram as a sacrifice. In the Christian and Jewish narrative, Abraham is commanded to kill another son, Isaac.

In Malaysia, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim joined thousands of congregants, including foreign tourists, in offering morning prayers at a mosque near his office in Putrajaya, south of the capital Kuala Lumpur.

Meanwhile, at a wholesale market in Selayang, just outside the capital, Muslim workers knelt on mats placed on a large piece of white cloth laid outside the market to perform their prayers.

In his message, Anwar said that the opportunity to go on Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca is one of God’s greatest gifts and should make one more ascetic and simple.

“I invite Muslims to live the message of simplicity preached during Hajj, to always be humble and not to be enchanted by the lure of temporary worldly riches,” Anwar said. “Let us not deviate from this goal. The world should be a bridge to the eternal land.”

Muslims in India, where they make up 14% of the population, celebrated Eid al-Adha across the country on Monday.

In the Indian capital New Delhi, thousands of people offered their prayers in the historic Jama Masjid, a 17th-century mosque. Families gathered early in the morning and many people shared hugs and well-wishes after prayers. Numerous merchants with goats had gathered in the streets leading to the mosque, where people bargained with them for the best price.

Devotees across Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority country of more than 170 million people, celebrated the festival Monday in open fields and mosques, where many prayed for a better world, free from war.

More than 400,000 devotees, the largest congregation in the country, offered prayers at a field in Kishoreganj district in the morning.

In the capital Dhaka, a prominent imam led a rally on the grounds of the Supreme Court, attended by 35,000 men and women.

Millions of cattle were slaughtered across the country to celebrate this day.


Associated Press writers Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Rishi Lekhi in New Delhi and Julhas Alam in Dhaka, Bangladesh, contributed to this report.