Eid-ul-Azha / Eid-ul-Zuha /Bakr-Idd.
It is one of the most important festivals for Muslims and is celebrated all over India like other Muslim countries. This Eid is celebrated for three days, i.e. from the 10th to the 12th of month of Dhul Hijjah, and is marked by the sacrifice of animals (goat, sheep, camel, buffalo). This offering precedes the special prayers in the mosques. Delicacies are prepared and served and distributed among families and friends on this occasion. The Eid-uz Zuha commemorates the mental agony of Prophet Ibrahim, Abraham of the Torah. According to Islamic beliefs, Prophet Ibrahim had been put to a test by God when he was asked to sacrifice whatever was the dearest to him and he decided to sacrifice his first born son, Ismaeil, Ishmael of the Torah. On the altar at the mount of Mina near Mecca, as he was on the point of applying the sword to his son's throat, it was revealed to him that it was only a test to determine his measure of submission to Divine commandments and his love for his Creator, and that it was enough. Instead he would offer ALLAH the sacrifice of only a ram. It is in honour of this test of Prophet Ibrahim’s determination and his faith that Muslims around the world offer the Eid prayers, sacrifice an animal on the occasion to show their faith, allegiance, submission and sincerity to ALLAH. This is celebrated on the tenth day of Dhul Hijjah - twelfth month of the Muslim lunar calendar - when the Haj celebrations at Mecca are rounded off by the sacrifice of goats, sheep or camels. In India, the animal used most often for sacrifice is the goat - which is why the occasion is spoken of in Urdu as Bakhr or Bakra-Eid. Eid also coincides with the anniversary of the day when the Holy Quran was declared complete. Haj (pilgrimage to Mecca) is one of the five pillars of Islam and is obligatory for those who financially sound enough to afford it besides providing enough means for their families left behind and not accompanying them; for others it is not. For millions of Muslim pilgrims who gather at Mecca in Saudi Arabia, it is a real big day. Muslim calendar being a lunar one, this Eid also depends on the sighting of the moon. On this day of Eid, the pilgrims reach the grounds of Mina where they sacrifice an animal each. The pilgrims then shave their heads. The purpose is to identify oneself in attire and appearance with … millions of devotees who converge to Mecca each year for the pilgrimage. In India, the day begins with a bath, after which namaz is offered. It is mandatory to sacrifice either individually or collectively if one cannot afford the full price of the animal. The sacrificial meat is then distributed amongst family, friends and the needy. Prayer meetings and Eid Milans (get-togethers) are part of the festivities. People visit friends and relatives wearing new clothes and jewellery. Children are given Eidi (gifts and cash money).
The feast of Bakr-Id is an occasion to give and to sacrifice. It is a day to thank the Almighty for one's good fortune and to share it with the less fortunate brethren. Id-ul-Zuha, or Id-ul-Azha, as it is called in Arabic, translates as 'the feast of sacrifice'. Popularly, Bakr-Id is marked by the slaughter of animals as sacrificial offerings, after which the meat is distributed among the needy and deprived. However, the concept of sacrifice is better understood through an incident from the Old Testament, which is nothing but an explanation of the concept of Bakr-Id. Historical Background As we look at the historical background of the Id-ul-Zuha, we gain information that ALLAH had commanded Hazrat Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ismail on Mount Mina near Mecca. Ibrahim, unable to see himself kill his son, blindfolded himself and carried out the pronouncement of God. When he took off the blindfold, a lamb lay slaughtered on the altar and his son stood there unharmed. Ibrahim understood then that this willingness on his part to give up his only son was what God sought, and not the sacrifice of human flesh and blood. Thus, the history of Bakr-Id confirms the belief of the devouts that all God requires of man is a surrender of his will and self. Like Ibrahim, who willingly surrenders his beloved son to God, a true follower of Islam is expected to sacrifice something that is dear to him. The animal sacrifices made during Bakr-Id are mainly to provide food to the poor and to commemorate the noble act of Ibrahim. This spirit of sacrifice is what truly underlines the spirit of Bakr-Id. Incidentally; the day also coincides with the day when the holy Quran was declared complete. Rituals Bakr-Id is celebrated from the tenth to the twelfth day in the Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah. Every year, while pilgrims to the Mount of Mina make animal sacrifices as part of the pilgrimage rituals, Muslims the world over celebrate Bakr-Id in a similar fashion. Every true Muslim who possesses wealth equal to or more than 400 grams of gold or is capable of affording two square meals a day, is expected to sacrifice an animal. A goat (also called bakri, hence Bakr-Id), sheep, camel or any other four-legged animal is slaughtered during one of the three days of the festival, and the meat is distributed. The sacrificial offering is divided in three parts - one for the self, another for friends, and the third, most importantly, for the needy. The sacrifice can be offered at any time before the afternoon of the third day. Festivities mark the first day, when people wear new clothes, offer prayers at the mosque, and greet friends and relatives. Special prayers are offered on all three days. It is said that the celebrations are carried on over three days to ensure that the entire Muslim community partakes in the noble of act of giving and sharing. Celebrated In Bakr-Id is celebrated all over India with much fervour, as it is in the rest of Islamic world. The name Bakr-Id, however, is most popular in India. In Arabic, the feast is usually referred to as Id-ul-Azha or Id-ul-Zuha.