New Delhi, Sep 25: Lakhs of Muslims thronged mosques and eidgahs across the country today to celebrate Eid-ul-Azha with Shias and Sunnis offering prayers together in Lucknow to mark the festival's spirit of brotherhood, even as sporadic clashes between youths and security forces marred the celebrations in parts of Kashmir.
Mass animal sacrifice, piety and spirit of brotherhood marked the occasion as Muslims rededicated themselves to Islamic tenets of love and piety. Eid-ul-Azha, the 'Festival of Sacrifice', commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to Allah.
Sheep and goats were sacrificed as per rituals and the meat was distributed among neighbours and relatives on the pious occasion, also know as Bakr-Id. In the national capital, faithfuls congregated at Jama Masjid, Fatehpuri Masjid and mosques in Seelampur, Jaffrabad, Seemapuri and Mustafad, among other areas, where they offered prayers and greeted 'Eid Mubarak' to each other.
Dressed in traditional attire, people visited homes of their friends and relatives and exchanged gifts. The celebrations took place amid elaborate security arrangements made by Delhi Police to prevent any untoward incident.
In Lucknow, members of Shia and Sunni sects offered a joint namaz at the historic Sibtainabad Imambara, deviating from the earlier tradition of doing so separately.
The joint prayer was the outcome of a unique citizen- driven initiative through social media called 'Shoulder-to- Shoulder (S2S)' aimed at spreading the message of universal brotherhood.
Noted Shia cleric and vice president of All India Muslim Personal Law Board Kalbe Sadiq, who attended the prayers at Sibtainabad Imambara, said "What can I say when brothers are embracing each other... All rifts and differences are over... This is my message if we come together and embrace each other like this all misunderstandings will be resolved."
Meanwhile in the Kashmir Valley, clashes broke out between youths and security forces in several areas of Srinagar and Anantnag districts after Eid prayers. The youth in groups started pelting stones at police and paramilitary forces in many areas after Eid prayers, police said, adding they were chased away by the security forces.
Clashes were reported from Eidgah, Rajouri, Kadal and some other areas of downtown Srinagar and at a few places in Anantnag district, a police officer said, adding the rest of the Kashmir Valley witnessed peaceful Eid prayers.
As precautionary measures, the authorities had snapped Internet services across Kashmir Valley and most separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik, Sabhir Shah were put under house arrest.
On the Indo-Pakistan border, personnel of Border Security Force and Pakistani Rangers exchanged sweets at Chakan-Da-Bagh and Mendhar crossing points along the LoC in Poonch and the International Border in Jammu to celebrate Eid-ul-Azha.