Photo Essay | Another Forlorn Festival In Kashmir

Pandemic may have already redefined the existing norms and notions of the humankind, but the dawn of another dull Eid in the valley only spread sullen sensations.

By Abid Bhat

After spending Eid Al-Azha under stifled breaths and hushed sacrifices last year, Kashmiris were looking forward to an unrestricted festival. But much to everyone’s dismay, the last summer’s shadowy landscape continues to haunt the valley.

The soaring viral graph, so to speak, marred the festivity, all while Kashmir still reels under a partial communication embargo.

Even as that ‘embargo’ is destined to continue for an unforeseeable time ahead, some streets and lanes were blessed with the sounds of eager children.

However, for most of the ‘inmates’ of the troubled vale, the COVID-19 lockdown, which was imposed without reversing the conditions of the pre-existing clampdown, speared through the spirit of this Eid.

The headlining feature of the occasion – ‘qurbani’, was hard for many to add to their already-sombre celebrations but a few folk favoured with luck managed the same.

The animal-farmers and other marketers who have been pushed into losses since last year’s clampdown, have struggled to break even this time.

There are a few who are still drowning in a sea of debts and towards the bed of bankruptcy.

The last straw for the Muslim majority region has been the curbs on congregations.

While it is agreed that the invisible virus needs to combated with social distancing and hygiene, the closure of combined prayers has been painful for the lot.

Although some ‘namaaz’ clusters were observed, most people offered their special prayers for the festival in the bounds of their homes.

Unsurprisingly enough, the resounding sentiment in the Valley was, “There is no Eid without Eid-namaz”.

As most mosques observed the central government guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic, their gates remained locked.

The lean affair did see some amount of goat-trading and purchasing yet not enough to revive the festive industry since it was hit last year.

The regulated festival once again brought home a sense of gloom for lockdown-weary children of Kashmir — some of whom were spotted having a fleeting fun time with their sacrificial lambs and goats.

But the fun was devoid of the usual careless walks on the streets. During the viral times, the restricted roads defied the very liberating idea of the Eid.

As buzzing mosques remain out of bounds, some men and women were seen lining up to pray on terrace, streets and courtyards.

Keeping the social distancing in view, many people had put up a telling sign — requesting their kin and friends to put the sacred piece of meat in a polythene bag hung on their gate.

Even as the occasional crackers ended the deafening silence in the valley for a change, the day passed off as another restricted routine.

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