NEW DELHI: Millions of Muslims today flocked to mosques and idgahs across the country to offer special prayers on Eid-ul-Fitr as people drenched in festive spirit exchanged greetings with warm embraces and took part in feasts with family and friends.
In the national capital, people dressed in their festive best turned up at historic Jama Masjid, Fathepuri Masjid, Hazrat Nizamuddin and other mosques in the city for 'namaz', wished each other "Eid Mubarak" and exchanged gifts on the festival marking the culmination of holy fasting month of Ramzan.
President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi greeted people on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr while Chief Ministers in several states joined the special prayers on the occasion.
"Greetings on Eid-ul-Fitr. May this auspicious day strengthen the bond of peace, unity & brotherhood across our Nation," the Prime Minister said in his message.
In Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah joined nearly 60,000 devout to offer Eid prayers at the revered Hazratbal Shrine on the banks of Dal Lake which saw the biggest gathering in the state. A big gathering was also reported at Eidgah in the old Srinagar city where nearly 30,000 people offered prayers.
The festival was celebrated across Kashmir with traditional fervour and gaiety though there were a few stray protests over the situation in Gaza. Extensive security arrangements were in place across the country, especially where large congregations took place. People visited relatives and enjoyed special dishes, particularly 'sewayian' made of vermicelli and different varieties of biryani and kebabs. Elders gave 'eidee' (token money) to children and gave out alms to the needy.
In Uttar Pradesh, Governor Ram Naik and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav visited Aishbagh Eidgah in Lucknow and greeted people on the occassion. In violence-hit Saharanpur district, devouts offered Eid prayers as district authorities relaxed curfew while security forces kept a tight vigil.
In Gujarat, festivities were marred by a mishap when a compound wall of an Idgah collapsed on peple after they had offered prayers, leaving two persons, including an eight-year-boy, dead and more than 35 injured in Mehsana district.
In Kerala, people congregated in large numbers in mosques in various towns and villages, where clerics led prayers and gave out the message of love, compassion and fraternity. As in many parts of the country, the clerics referred to the Gaza situation.
In Kolkata, over 40,000 Muslims gathered on Red Road for the Namaz-e-Eid, where West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was present. Thousands offered prayers at Nakhoda Masjid and Tipu Sultan mosque which Banerjee had visited last night.
Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi joined a large number of people who offfered prayers at Gandhi Maidan. He later visited Khanqah Mujibia and Imarat-e-Shariah in Phulwarisharif and prayed for peace and prosperity of the people of the state.
In BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan took part in festivities at idgah here. Religious fervour and gaiety marked Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations in Andhra Pradesh and newly created Telangana.
Major congregations were witnessed at the historic Mir Alam Eidgah, Makka Masjid, Secunderabad Eidgah in Hyderabad. Big gatherings were also reported in the towns of Nizamabad, Warangal and Mahabubnagar in Telangana and at Kurnool, Anantapur, Vijayawada and Guntur in Andhra Pradesh.
Despite heavy rains in Mumbai and other parts of Maharshtra, people came out in large numbers to offer Eid prayers. In Mumbai, makeshift tents were put up outside many mosques to cover people. To mark the festival, houses were decorated and members of Muslim community shared a special delicacy "sheer khorma" (a sweet preparation of milk, dry fruits and vermicelli).
Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, spiritual head of the Dawoodi Bohra community, prayed for peace in the Muslim world and advised the community members to work for the betterment of the nation.
Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated on the first date of Shawwal--the tenth month of the Hijri calendar--every year.
In Meghalaya, over 8,000 people offered prayers at the Eidgah ground of the Madina Masjid in Shillong. It is thebiggest glass mosque in the entire north eastern region. Eid celebrations passed off peacefully in other states as well including Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana.