In the midst of the epidemic and rising fears about the extremely contagious delta version of the coronavirus, Muslims throughout the world observed yet another important Islamic festival on Tuesday.
Eid al-Adha, or the “Feast of Sacrifice,” is traditionally celebrated with communal prayers, massive social gatherings, cattle-killing, and the distribution of meat to the poor. This year’s vacation falls during a period in which several nations are grappling with the delta variety, which was originally detected in India, forcing some to impose new restrictions or appeal to people to avoid congregating and observe safety measures.
For the second year in a row, the epidemic has taken its toll on a fundamental pillar of Islam, the hajj, whose final days coincide with Eid al-Adha. The pilgrimage, which once drew 2.5 million Muslims from all over the world to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, has been drastically reduced as a result of the virus.
This year’s hajj has been limited to 60,000 Saudi nationals or residents who have been immunized. On Tuesday, pilgrims dressed in masks and keeping social distance executed the symbolic stoning of the devil in the Mina valley area, using sterilized stones they had acquired in advance.
“This is a very, very, very important time for us, especially for me,” pilgrim Arya Widyawan Yanto, an Indonesian residing in Saudi Arabia, said. He said that he was grateful for the opportunity to make the journey. “Everything was carried out with extreme prudence.”
Yanto expressed his hope that the pandemic will stop soon and that all Muslims would be able to make the trip safely.