The Muslims in the country are set to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr on May 24 or 25 subject to the sighting of Shawal moon on the previous evening. This is the largest of the two Muslim religious festivals in the country, the other being Eid-ul-Azha. Eid-ul-Fitr follows the month-long mandatory ritual of fasting, called Ramadan. Due mainly to the stringent religious requirements of daytime abstinence from food, drinks and all temporal pleasures, this Eid assumes a unique character. To Muslims all over the world, Eid-ul-Fitr thus stands for a day of solemn festivities including exchange of greetings, wearing of new clothes, keeping free from work, and special feasts. All these festivities are preceded by a short but special prayer coupled with 'qhutba' (sermon) at congregations, especially at open spaces. The tradition of Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations dates back to the time of Hazrat Muhammad (SM), the founder of Islam.
This year the grand festival has coincided with a fraught time. The festive occasion has arrived at a period this year when the country steps into the third month of the raging global pandemic of COVID-19. Just on Wednesday, a super-cyclone slammed the country's coast. Disproving apprehensions, the storm roared through the southwestern and northern parts of the country, leaving a moderate trail of devastation. It, however, included some deaths. Never in the past has the Eid-ul-Fitr festival in Bangladesh found itself caught in such an adverse time. Times of global wars and regional conflicts have occasionally marred the Eid festivals in Muslin-majority regions. Eid-ul-Fitr also arrived in Bangladesh when it was under the siege of the then occupation army in 1971. These traumatic events have detracted a lot from the Eid jubilations. But in essence those ordeals have strengthened the affected people's determination to weather the crises and, finally, engage in celebrations on being free of adversities.
The present scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic plaguing the globe and parading big and small nations doesn't use armouries to invade nations. Yet it has seemingly proved its invincibility which stems from a virus not known before. In the last three months, Bangladesh has shown its extreme vulnerability to this highly infectious disease. Like all other affected countries, Bangladesh has also put in place a number of measures to prevent the spread of the disease. The virus has already wrought havoc on many countries by taking thousands of lives. Hospitals with their limited space cannot accommodate patients, the number of whom keeps rising in the affected regions. Apart from its pathetically inadequate number of treatment facilities, the COVID-19 situation in Bangladesh is also crippled by lack of coordination between the relevant agencies, and the overall mismanagement.
In spite of the government's enforcement of preventive measures, the general people remain least concerned about those. It's their sheer apathy towards abiding by the rules like social distancing and staying home which risks the situation spinning out of control. By being wilfully unaware of the disease's fallout, a large section of the country's people are seemingly courting irreversible woes. The number of deaths from the viral attack continues to rise; but one earnestly hopes it will taper off. The desperate race to invent affordable medicines and vaccines and treatments in both rich and poorer countries speaks volumes of the COVID-19 situation's volatility but not without a silver lining. The Eid festival teaches humans the lessons of solemnity in celebrations, which also ought to be free of misgivings. Thus on the mass level a greater sense of collective responsibility will have to be demonstrated for the greater good of the greatest number. Humans, however, do have occasional disruptions. They test their power of endurance. Let the Eid festival this year eventually prove to be an example of the nation's inherent virtue of forbearance and abidance by the rules of health and well-being. Eid Mubarak