SRINAGAR: With almost all mosques and shrine out of bounds for people in wake of the restrictions due to coronavirus pandemic, most people offered Jumat-ul-Vida, the last Friday of the ongoing holy month of Ramazan, at home.
Unlike past, there was no hustle and bustle normally associated with the occasion. On a normal day, people would have thronged mosques, Khankahs, shrines and other holy places throughout the Kashmir Valley and Jammu region. Some people would report to the mosques several hours before the start of the prayers given the reverence associated with the occasion.
The historic Jamia Masjid here, which used to witness the largest congregation prayers on the day, wore a deserted look even as large number of police and paramilitary forces remained deployed to restrict the movement of people in a bid to contain the novel coronavirus. Anjuman Auqaf Jamia Masjid had already announced that there will be no prayers including Jumat-ul-Vida at the grand mosque in wake of the pandemic.
The second biggest gathering on the occasions would normally take place at Dargah Hazratbal but like almost all mosques, there was no large congregation in wake of the decision by the authorities to bar the prayers to prevent the spread of the virus which has already claimed twenty lives and infected more than 1450 people across J&K. Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Wakf Board had already announced the suspension of celebrations and congregational prayers on Jumatul Vida at Masjids and Shrines affiliated to it, in view of the threat of the coronavirus.
Khanqah has been the oldest address of Islam in Kashmir. On special occasions like Jumat-ul-Vida, it would attract thousands of worshippers. Apart from the two levels of the mosque, the worshippers would fill the vast open space surrounding it. This Friday, it was closed for the people. Even the shrine of Naqshband Sahab was silent today.
While all the mosques near main roads remained closed, Friday prayers were, however, offered in some mosques located in the interiors of the city and elsewhere in the valley.
Reports said that small gatherings and shortened prayers were held in these mosques as people took precautionary measures required to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Earlier this week, Advisor to Lieutenant Governor, Baseer A Khan, interacted with several religious leaders and sought their cooperation as regards advising people to stay home during the religious occasions including Jumat-ul-Vida and ensuing Eid-ul-Fitr to help curb COVID19. The government has already issued orders which bans congregation at religious places.