Fervour, gaiety mark Eid-ul-Azha in Andhra Pradesh

Hyderabad, Oct 27 (IANS) Religious fervour and gaiety marked Eid-ul-Azha, the Muslim festival of sacrifice, in Hyderabad and other parts of Andhra Pradesh Saturday.

Thousands of people offered Eid prayers in the morning at Eidgahs or open grounds and mosques in the state capital, Vijayawada, Guntur, Anantapur, Kurnool and other towns.

The biggest congregation was at the historic Mir Alam Eidgah in the old city of Hyderabad, where over 2,00,000 Muslims offered prayers on the occasion of their second biggest festival, also known as Bakrid.

Huge gatherings were also seen at the historic Mecca Masjid, and Eidgahs at Madannapet, Masab Tank and Secunderabad and hundreds of mosques in the state capital.

After the prayers, the Muslims sacrificed animals in the name of the Almighty Allah and remembered the great sacrifice offered by Prophet Ibrahim.

Imams and khateebs (who deliver sermons) exhorted Muslims to imbibe the spirit of sacrifice and follow Prophet Ibrahim, who offered to sacrifice his son Prophet Ismail to please Allah.

According to Muslim belief, Allah replaced Ismail with a sheep just as Ibrahim was about to slit his throat.

The meat of the sacrificed goats and other cattle is distributed equally in three parts. The person making the sacrifice keeps one part for his family while the other two are distributed among relatives and the poor.

The streets of the Muslim-majority old city of Hyderabad wore a festive look while the butchers, coming from other districts, did brisk business.

Hectic activity was seen in many parts of the city as the sale of goats continued throughout the night. The goats and sheep were sold for Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 8,000 each.

The sacrifice can be made during the three-day celebrations, with Saturday being the first day.

The Islamic seminaries and socio-religious organisations were busy receiving the animals' skins, the proceeds of which are used for their activities.

The Muslims families prepare special dishes of meat to celebrate the Eid. The visitors are also treated with sweets.

Eid was celebrated with enthusiasm in Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Adilabad, Mahabubnagar, Medak and other towns in Telangana, where Muslims have a sizable population.

Muslims account for about 10 percent of the state's nearly 80 million population. They comprise 40 percent of the 7.7 million people of Greater Hyderabad.